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Posts Tagged ‘sexuality’

Here’s your piece of Carnivorous Surprise for the month: BREAST CANCER IS NOT SEXXY. It’s an awful disease that kills people (men AND wimmins) and causes them to sometimes have parts of their body cut out, off, and around. Mount Franklin would like you to know that not only is chestal carcinoma the flavour of the month (or the flavour of the godfucken YEAR if the LENGTH of this STUPID CAMPAIGN indicates), it also signifies a whole lot of messages about the attractiveness of women, boobs, women with boobs, and women without boobs. All of them about as palatable as having a malignant growth in your left tit should be.

Back in ’94, me mam had breast cancer. I was of a squidgy, eeny kind of age, where the main things I gained from the situation were blind panic about my mother’s life hanging by a thread and a weird, inexplicable taste for hospital food, nurtured by stealing bites of her “mashed potato” when I visited her, feverish and sweaty, on the cancer ward (I was a kid with my priorities straight, what can I say). This means two main things for me right now: one, I very much understand the horror, from a precocious but nevertheless childishly impressionable perspective, of having someone you love in danger of popping their clogs due to a bit of rogue cell gunge in their body, and two, I very much understand the fear of contracting this disease myself.

So let me say this: I do not care about saving my funbags. Fuck my tits. My tits, apart from their possible spatio-temporal involvement in the growth of tumours, are the absolute last thing I would be worried about if I happened to contract breast cancer. This may come out of left field for the few of you in the audience who are unutterably misogynist prickfaces (hi there!), but I would first and foremost be worried about MY CONTINUED FUCKING EXISTENCE. My ability to skip gaily through life making fun of everything is not going to be affected by chopping off a few fat cells and milk ducts, but the condition of pushing the daisies certainly would. This is not to say that women who are extremely attached to their breasts are wrong, simply that some faceless advertising wolverine trying to figure out how to suck three bucks out of me for a product which will inevitably destroy the planet and whose pthalate-enriched packaging is probably carcinogenic, does not get to decide what is most important to people with (or who might get) breast cancer.

And another thing: women without breasts can still be attractive and worthy human beings, you tit-centric boobonormative ogres. Women who decide that their life is worth more than their boobs, or maybe decide not to opt for reconstruction, have just as much right to relate on a sexual or attraction-based level to their chests as women who have congenital boobs, non-congenital boobs, reconstructed boobs, or boobs made out of fucking breeze blocks. Losing your boobs does not have to equal losing your mojo. Conversely, this stupid ad also does the opposite side of the objectification coin, sexualising ALL women’s breasts, women who may not feel that catching attention with their boobs is their God-given highest purpose in life. I certainly don’t feel comfortable with the idea that some schlub drinking a bottle of water is imagining they’re suckling from my teat, although that image is funnier when you remember that men get breast cancer as well, I suppose.

I haven’t even broached the subject of the overwhelming and nauseating dominance of the colour pink in breast cancer activism, or the dubious purposes toward which your pink titty-dollars are put, or the even creepier suggestion that breast-checking is a mandatory activity which a representative of patriarchal dominance is entitled to perform for you if you don’t do it yourself. Basically the whole thing is a clusterfuck which makes me wish I didn’t even have boobs, and lived in a state of hermitude on the tit-free planet of Mars.

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Coming Out Day was the other day (I forget which day, but this will be a retroactive post in its spirit, ITS SPIRIT OK). So here is my coming out: I am queer and pansexual and I think I am polyamorous. I will theoretically have relationships with anyone who has the inclination to have one with me. This, I am sure of. The polyamory part is new to me. It’s kinda like I’ve just woken up wearing a hat: a large, flowery hat that I cannot remove, and because people will tend to notice this kind of thing, I have to come up with a name for the hat and buy a hat box to keep it in. I am also a woman, but because my sex-‘n’-gender are readily socially intelligible to the average schmuck, I don’t think that counts as coming out.

So pansexuality. I don’t use that word very often because it is scary to me. Every time I use it aloud I adopt a defensive posture, ready to shout ‘well YOUR FACE IS A BOGUS POSTMODERN CONSTRUCT’. Because saying ‘bisexual’, which was my word du jour until very recently, is scary enough. Slutty, greedy. (Both true, yay!! Oops. I mean, WHAT A SHAME.) Fickle, naïve, fake, poseur, really gay, really straight, trendy. (Not true).  But saying ‘pansexual’ is scarier because most people cock their heads sideways and go to the place in their minds where there are images of orgies with happy cartoon squirrels blocking out peoples’ naughty parts. Pansexual is scary because it does not, as far as I can tell, imply attraction that adheres to a binary construction of sex-‘n’-gender. It implies potential attraction to people who are neither male nor female, or both, or one and then the other.

I am fine with this, deep inside my identity place. Men are good. Women are good, Genderqueer people are good. Bigendered people are good. Everyone is pretty fucking good.  I do not see a WRONG WAY GO BACK sign anywhere here. Do you see a fuss here? There is no fuss, except other people’s fuss. Other people’s fuss sucks. I don’t use ‘bisexual’ any more because it DID fuss me inside, it fussed me because it was inaccurate. It also fussed me because it makes me think of binarily gendered toilet doors and a small group of people standing outside looking excluded and sad. I didn’t want use a word that was those toilet doors, especially when it wasn’t even the most correct word. I am not those toilet doors, damn it. I’m going to stop saying ‘toilet doors’ now.

So that is my attraction-gradient: queer and pansexual. Usually now I just use ‘queer’, but ‘pansexual’ is the smoothly engineered term. The aerodynamic one that I would use more if my defensive posture didn’t hurt my lower back.

Polyamory is my new hat. I have two partners and I’m not sure that there is anything else for it but to call a hat a hat. Or to call having two partners ‘polyamory’. There’s just a hat, okay? It’s new and I’m scared of it. I’m scared of having to explain why I’m wearing this hat. I’m scared of having to explain that it’s not even the average kind of polyamory hat, because one of my partners is asexual. I’m scared that I won’t be able to fit through doorways with my hat on (not really but youknowwhatImean).  I feel as if this label has been thrust upon me. Though I have known since forever that I am a greedy enough slutbag* to potentially want multiple partners, it has never been in the forefront of my consciousness enough to demand its own checky box. I am uncomfy and I don’t know whether I like this word enough to keep it and pet it and call it George. (I think I just changed my mind in one paragraph. Keep your expectations of coherency low and you won’t be disappointed.)

So that is my coming out. I asked someone once if I could refer to myself as Neutral Greedy McSlutbag, but they said no.

*Slutbag here used in an affectionate and reclaimed manner to refer to myself. SLUTBAGS UNITE!

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Here is part of a rebuttal of my anti-gay marriage post, by a guy I know only as ‘Dan’:

And, yes, the gay marriage movement ignores the rights of transexuals and polygamists. That’s because gays are not transexual and gays are not polygamists. Eleanor’s really going to oppose expanding rights to a group of people just because that group of people isn’t also fighting for the rights of a completely different set of people? Then we also shouldn’t pass gay marriage because gay marriage advocates aren’t fighting to pass UHC, or gun control legislation, or any of my other pet causes. Eleanor’s inappropriately mixing causes here.

This makes me spit fucking chips.

Hey, guess what? There’s no such thing as ‘inappropriately mixing causes’. The gay people you’re fighting for ARE TRANS* PEOPLE. They are also women, poly people, people of colour, disabled people, neurodiverse people. The gay marriage movement fights for causes that predominantly concern wealthy, white, middle class men, a group that constitute a tiny minority of the privileged upper crust. Being gay, fighting for gay marriage, does not give you license to ignore issues affecting gay people that do not affect you personally. You might not be a person with a serious mental illness who has to negotiate the medical and justice establishments refusing to acknowledge your basic humanity, but SOME OTHER GAY PEOPLE ARE. They have to worry about being oppressed for being gay, AND being oppressed for being a undocumented immigrant or a person with a disability.

Acknowledging the everyday concerns of your fellow gay people is called ‘intersectionality’, and mastering it is the only way that any social justice movement has a snowflake’s chance on my tongue of achieving any kind of truly liberated society. Gay people are not just gay people exactly like you, and ignoring the importance of other oppressions that they experience is racist, sexist, transphobic, ableist, all of the above. As someone primarily identifying as a feminist, this is something I should be thinking about every day, and as someone who advocates queer rights, the same thing applies. It’s not okay for feminism to pay attention only to privileged women, and it’s not okay for the gay rights movement to pay attention only to privileged gay people.

We should be trying to mix our causes MORE, not less. THAT is what bourgeois means: not a promotion of the ‘ordinary’ or ‘base’, but the privilege to ignore issues that do not affect you personally. People’s lives do not reflect a neatly segmented pie of different oppressions, and this is one of the huge problems with privileged anti-oppression academia and activism: we deny the lived experience of people who experience multiple oppressions. I include myself in this, because, as an aspiring member of government and academia, I am complicit, through my involvement, with perpetuating this enormous fucking problem. We should be listening to the voices of people who are oppressed in different and multiple ways, and implementing their suggestions within our ‘different’ movements. Heard of ‘safety in numbers’? This is what we should be trying to achieve.

But people who refuse to ‘mix their causes’, and it is usually the privileged among us who do this, delay, obscruct, kill off this objective. We fixate on our own pet issues to the detriment of the humanity of others. I cannot be a feminist who does not listen to women of colour or fat women or disabled women or women who are sex workers. Their problems are MY PROBLEMS. By ignoring them we foster their fully deserved resentment and hatred toward us. When I hear someone say something that is racist, and I do not try to counter it, I am being racist. Is that not completely fucking obvious? I get shat off massively when the male left ignores feminist issues, and I’m sure gay rights activists feel the same way when it’s gay rights that falls by the wayside when we all cluster under the leftist umbrella.

This is a shitty excuse for an Intersectionality 101 post, but if it made you angry or confused, do some research, for the love of humanity. I am not attacking here; I am defending. Read about intersectionality.

We are not completely different sets of people.

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O hai guys.

I have been really busy being unconscionably lazy, but I have a very serious question that has been bugging the shit out of me for some time. It’s a language limitation question, and it is of a Personal Nature. I am so open to suggestions about this issue, you have no idea. I am like a sweet wrapper after an overexcited six year old has carefully torn it into a long, single strip, tied the ends together, and got all his other sugar-hopped pals to jump through it. I am a giant ear, waiting to receive your ingenious solutions to my irritating terminology gripe.

So here’s the thing. There is a person. Most of my readers, all 25 of you, know this person. For those of you who don’t, she is taller than the average circus freak, likes to cut up the dead into chunks, and her head currently has a pleasingly shaven texture. We love eachother very, very much. If she wanted to convert to ascetic mysticism, move to Yemen, and live in a bark hut, eking out a living by catching local birds and weaving their entrails into baskets, I would whip out my viscera crochet hook and go with her. She is asexual; I am not. I am in a sexual relationship with someone else, whom I can handily and accurately describe as my boyfriend. She’s not my ‘friend’, because that word does not cover the commitment, intimacy, and occasional pirate wenchitude involved in our relationship. ‘Girlfriend’, ‘spouse’, and ‘partner’ all have misleadingly sexual connotations.

What I want is a word that doesn’t have to involve an extended conversation about our personal histories when I describe our relationship to other people. These conversations usually result in me (and her) feeling a combination of ignored, scrutinised, disbelieved, laughed at, infantilised, objectified, or slightly violated. I need a word for what we are, or even a phrase, I’m not shooting for the Moon here, that describes transparently the state of the union. We love eachother, we are in a relationship. We want to ‘build a life together’ (this is the point where I officially abandon any effort to sound less like a Centrelink pamphlet) that involves all the things that long-term partnerships usually do, without the bonking. I have/will have other partner/s that I will probably sleep with. She is not ‘single’, and I am not in an ‘exclusive relationship’ with her or my boyfriend. Ideally it would also involve some implied imperatives: saying ‘this is my girlfriend’ usually also means ‘do not mack on her while I am around’ and, even in polyamorous situations, ‘the other one of us will probably be involved in any relationship you wish to pursue with her’. We do not sleep together, but we are together.

This is generally compounded by my stick insect mortician partner’s asexuality, which most people characterise as nonexistent, pathological, or SO INTERESTING OMG that it magically obliterates her/our privacy. Or there’s the occasional person who paradoxically finds it a massive turn on. Unfortunately for their various projected issues, she is just a normal person who doesn’t want to have sex with you.

So there is the situation. I don’t want to resort to ‘co-pilot’ or ‘life partner’, please Jesus God no, and not many people grok ‘hemiasexual queeromantic marriagelike cuddlefest’ upon first hearing. Are there any words that connote anything similar to what we’re doing here, or am I grasping at asexual lesbotronic domestic partnership straws? Currently I’m using ‘hemiasexual queeromantic partner’ for her on facebonk, and ‘sexual heteromantic partner’ for my other squee-ee-eeze. Are you smrter than I am with words? Give me other options.

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I’m probably already on the record somewhere as saying that marriage sucks, but I thought I’d have another go at it, given that some hatemongering scumracket judges in California decided that homos aren’t allowed to get married to eachother. As indicated by the first half of that sentence, I too do not think homos should be allowed to get married, although my sentiment is only coherent for a highly specific value of the word ‘marriage’ (and yes, I do happen to love discussing highly specific values of otherwise everyday words). I know saying that you’re against gay marriage, in the leftist world, is commensurate with vomiting into a large tub every day for five years and then flooding a happy rainbow unicorn land with your saved up puke, but give me a minute to make a list of some stuff.

1. Under the current system, all marriage sucks. It’s an inherently exclusionary way of validating one kind of highly specific relationship and awarding it benefits based on outdated criteria. It rests on a set of heteronormative assumptions (possibly the most heteronormative assumptions of all, unless you count the ones in ads for washing detergent), mostly to do with the production of children. Married hetero couples, it is assumed, produce the most and the best of society’s children; therefore, the union itself must confer special, glittery benefits upon its partakers. Of course, those of us with giant communist brains realise that unmarried hetero couples, unmarried homo couples, single men, single women, polyamorous people, and various combinations of the above all take care of children in our diverse modern society. Some would suggest that taking care of children may be the best criterion for assessing whether a person should receive benefits for taking care of children, but shh. Don’t tell Family First.

2. Marriage privileges some kinds of interdependent relationships over others. Namely, ones in which the participants are assumed to be fucking. This is a clever social fiction that I don’t fully understand, and which mirrors another, more deeply rooted (lol sorry) social fiction: if you don’t fuck eachother, it’s not a real relationship. It’s funny and/or absurd to think of two people getting married who don’t fuck eachother, isn’t it? To think of two people living together, declaring next of kinship, having children, and demanding social recognition of their interdependence, without fucking eachother? I find this attitude totally bizarre. What if two siblings, or three or four siblings, want to raise children together, or just live together? A group of female friends? A couple and their friend? A polyamorous relationship with three people, one of the partner’s parents, and a cousin from interstate?

All of these are de facto possibilities, and, I think, possibly better possibilities. Who knows how many people would be happier in some kind of alternate arrangement that didn’t involve a socially compulsory man-fucking-a-woman, or, in places with gay marriage, person-fucking-ONE-other-person. Hey, kids, guess what? It’s okay to  have kids with whomever you want. It’s okay to not fuck that person, it’s okay to not fuck anyone, and it’s okay to live by yourself, hate kids, and use your fertile years to build giant sculptures of zombie pirates out of Lego. 3… 2… 1… go.

3. Marriage at the moment is a weird, squishy consolidation of church stuff and state stuff. Instead of bitching about that, check this out: France has a pretty good solution, even if it’s in its infancy and has a while to go before you can let it out of the house on its own. The idea is that “marriage” is definitely a religious thing, and specific religions can impose whatever wacky norms they want on it. Civil unions, on the other hand, are definitely a State thing, and imply, socially speaking, nothing about whomever is seeking to be a party to one. You can have one, both, or neither, depending on what you had for breakfast this morning.

Obviously, the glaring omission in the French version is that only two people can enter into it at a time, and it suffers from conflating adult interdependency with caring for children. I think the solution is that someone smarter and more hard-working than me has to invent either a new kind of union, or a modified Civil Union, that specifically refers to the responsibility of spooning mashed veggies into a snotty infant after 1.5 hours of poor quality sleep.

4. The gay marriage movement ignores many of its own. It ignores many of the reasons gay people might want to get married. ‘Gay people can’t marry eachother for immigration status!’ Well, maybe you should think about reforming your shitty immigration system. ‘Gay people can’t access their partner’s health insurance!’ Stop me, but maybe you should reform your shitty health insurance system. etc. It ignores polyamorous people, and in fact seems to spend a lot of its time refuting the conservatives who say that it might lead to poly marriage. This is pretty stupid, because they’re right: consenting adults, blah blah blah. It ignores the rights of trans people, who might have a lot more complicated and traumatic legal bullshit than cis gay people if they want to get married. In short, it’s pretty fucking bourgeois.

So that’s why Eleanor Carnivore is against gay marriage. There’s another post in here somewhere about whether or not gay marriage can be seen as a kind of baby step on the way up to something that actually resembles equality, but I’ve got dinner to eat and an assignment that was due yesterday to write. Also: I’m officially asking for submissions for another Ask Aunt Carnivore, which appears to have been my most popular post. So, are you bored? Gassy? Lonely? Angry? Email me at shesacarnivore@gmail.com ! I want to turn your problems into a mildly amusing and ideologically motivated blog post help!

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Dear Ms Carnivore,

It has recently come to my attention that women are more interesting, in a libidinous sense, than I had previously given them credit for. In between exercising my newfound perving interests and nursing truly hopeless crushes, I took time to inform my parental units that girlfriends, hypothetically speaking, are as much a possibility for their daughter as boyfriends. My mother, in tones of woe, replied that she thought so. My father, with resignation, informed me that he thought that’s what they could expect when they sent me off to a women’s college. (Subsequently we had an awkward family moment, and that was it for the Coming Out Crisis, happily.)

However, while exchanging a Christmas telephone call with my best friend, he felt the need to ask me (‘don’t cross, I am your best friend, and I have to ask’), where exactly I stood on the matter of ladies. Once I had set him straight, he informed me that that was perfectly ok, and he thinks it’s a phase all university-going women go through at some point.

Now, my brother’s friends had warned him of something similar when I first went away to Women’s College (and by ‘warn’ I mean sniggered in both anticipation and derision). And now I wonder: why is it that so many people think education, in women, leads inevitably to lesbianism or variants thereupon? As a right-thinking bisexual yourself, you will no doubt answer, first, that this is because female homoerotics are a very smart option. However, none of the people I have just mentioned are given to thinking well of homoerotics, in general, and all of them delivered this ultimatum in varying degress of dismissiveness, derision and disapproval.

I am inclined to blame some form of heteropatriarchal prejudice. Being young and untutored in the ways of hetero-patriarchy blaming, I find myself at a loss as to how to proceed. I submit my dilemma to your superior analytical wisdom.

Sincerely,

ineptshieldmaid
http://ineptshieldmaid.livejournal.com

Dear ineptshieldmaid,

Firstly, congratulations on Coming Out, and may you have joyous Sapphic relations. As you say, I am also a queer, and I unhesitatingly recommend the inclination to all.

Secondly, congratulations on obtaining the full set of Collect-’em-All Garden Variety Queerphobe Action Figures. With a Worrying Mother, Mildly Disappointed Father, Dismissive Friend, and Horny Acquaintances, you could sell the entire troupe on eBay for a substantial amount of money, as long as you don’t take them out of the box.  As you’ve noticed, they each come with a unique and indispensable opinion on your personal sexual orientation, and a common belief that their thoughts on the matter are of an importance level approximately equal to matters of crucial national security.

It is true that, as a woman who happens to have lived at a tertiary education institution, your bisexual orientation was almost inevitably going to be chalked up to spending years in close quarters with hot young thangs. Why this stereotype persists, I’m not sure; possibly it is assumed that young female college students are susceptible to some kind of Boob Overdose, like a deer caught in headlights, whereby once a critical number of breasts have been viewed, the young woman in question is henceforth fixated. More likely, the Lesbian Until Graduation stereotype, or LUG, exists as a means of removing legitimacy from bisexual and lesbian orientations and relationships. As you can see, it functions differently according to the proclivity of the invoker; some dismiss it as Just a Phase, some question whether bisexuality can be classified as a “real” sexual orientation if one “picked it up” during college or university, and some, like your brother’s friends, frame it in terms of its titillation value.

The common denominator among all these reactions is that your sexual preference is being assigned a value by people who think they know you better than you do. Rather than taking your coming out at face value, and being supportive and non-judgemental, your bisexuality is being critiqued against the normative benchmark of heterosexuality. It must, therefore, be assigned a cause and a duration, which you have already been kindly gifted; the next step is for someone to suggest a cure, which can generally be found in the common utterance, “You just haven’t found the right man yet”, or, if you’re really lucky, “Here’s the brochure for a church program I thought you might be interested in.”

Thus, your perfectly normal sexuality has suddenly become a mysterious tropical disease. You will probably find a favoured way of coping with these bizarre attitudes to healthy human behaviour; some popular courses of action are Not Talking About It, Slow And Gentle Re-Education, and Outright Provocation. I personally recommend the latter; after a few weeks of randomly uttering, “Cor! Look at the tits on her!” around your parents, they will probably learn to leave the topic well alone unless they are also willing to engage in some healthy, family-bonding objectification.

Lots of Love,

Eleanor Carnivore

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