Sunday, 1 March 2009

Prurient Imaginations!

Part 2 of my response to "Nine Deuce, You're A Homophobe!" Part 1 is here, and should provide context. Let me know if you need more, readers.

I wanted to quote in its entirety a comment by ND's reader Jenn, defending ND against the claim that her rhetoric sounds more than a little like that homophobes use to condemn gays and lesbians.

As this fag can attest, I’ve never once thought of you as a homophobe. Quite to the contrary, comparing my sexuality to all sorts of hipster nihilist shit that people might engage in whilst fucking—like foot fetishes, fursuits, BDSM, or golden showers—just offends the ever living fuck out of me. And I detest people that try to take the legitimacy of the gay rights movement and twist it for their own use.

This entire culture is structured upon the oppression of gender roles and the model of a patriarchal two gender family. Tying someone up and fucking them or licking their feet is odd, but it’s hardly challenging the status quo in a fundamental way. Loving someone of my own sex, displaying approperiate affection in public, and wanting to marry her or raise children together makes even the most liberal of straight folks a little uncomfortable. That’s because these actions directly oppose the heteronormative patriarchal roots of present society. They reverberate throughout my entire life, and affect so much more than what I do between the sheets. The reduction of homosexuality to just another kink is delusional as fuck. Refusal to adhere to the standard gender binary is not just something that you take out of the closet for sexy time, it’s a badge of shame in a world who classifies non-heterosexuals as the “other”.

If your BDSM is to the point that you feel that you should have the ability to walk your sub through the mall naked on a leash, and then call the inability to do so “oppression” on par with the dirty looks I earn while doing something as innocent as holding a partner’s hand, then you are a delusional fuck without a shred of rationality or perspective. Honestly, I don’t give a shit about the ability to have sex with someone of the same gender in public or engage in heavy petting. Straight couples can’t do that either, and I’m certainly not against that.

Sexual and gender identity is just that, an identity. It’s not an expression of sex in a place where sexuality is inappropriate. Walking a naked chick with nipple clamps into Macy’s is a blatant and inappropriate display of sexuality on par with straight couples fondling each other’s genitalia in public. Holding hands with another woman while I pursue the racks at Dillard’s is not obscene.

Seriously, if you cannot separate distaste for the blatant display of another’s sex life from genuine bigotry and hatred of someone’s identity, grow the fuck up. You’re like those PETA assholes who think that wearing KKK robes in public is an approperiate way to protest the abuse of animals. If you can’t defend your own movement without undermining another, just shut the hell up and go back to your dungeon.

The thing I want people to notice here is how she takes us to be asserting that we ought to have a right to do BDSM in public.

Not just that, but she seems to think we want the right to walk around naked in public -- something I've never seen queer folk assert that they should have.

(Yeah, I know, old-school '70s gay lib had a lot more shock elements to it. But I don't think even they ever said "It's discriminatory not to allow us to walk around naked in public. They were intentionally being provocative.)

Which only proves our point further. This sort of lurid fantasizing is exactly what homophobes do. Someone says "I should have the right to marry whoever I wish," and this is translated in the bigot's mind into "Give him that, and he'll be rutting like a pig in the middle of Main Street."

If said homophobe is particularly vile or clueless, he may add "With our kids."

Looked at from a distance, it's actually a strangely irrational phenomenon. Someone says "Hey, stop speaking viciously about people like me" or "People like me shouldn't be at risk of losing our jobs, especially when we're scrupulous about the closet" and someone starts screeching about "nipple clamps in the mall."

I don't know what it is, and I probably shouldn't do too much armchair psych here. But an initial guess is that it's a way of projecting "bad" sexuality outward. It seems to be "I'm not extreme; I'm within some acceptable parameter. Anyone not like me, however, is ridiculous and obnoxious."

It seems to me to be a way of talking about extremes -- a way of saying "nipples and Main Street" -- and disavowing identification with them. "Oh, I would never think about such a horrible thing. Except when condemning those people over there. Who aren't me. Did I say I'd never think about CLAMPED NIPPLES ON MAIN STREET? Well, of course, I never would. It's those people over there who'd CLAMP NIPPLES ON MAIN STREET."

While our BDSMy reader just sits there going "Main Street? You're weird."

40 comments:

Myca said...

I think you're being slightly more charitable than I would be in theorizing that this kind of language is an attempt to "project 'bad' sexuality outward."

My theory is more that it's an attempt to avoid saying "consenting adults should not engage in mutually pleasurable sexual activity in the privacy of their homes." Making it all about the public and nipple clips at the mall and "OH GOD THINK OF THE CHIIIIILLLLLDREN," is a way to make acceptable what is essentially a bigoted stance.

---Myca

Trinity said...

"My theory is more that it's an attempt to avoid saying "consenting adults should not engage in mutually pleasurable sexual activity in the privacy of their homes.""

Eh, I'm not sure that's useful as a theory. It doesn't really help people on the fence understand our point to say "Look, that person got all upset about nipples on Main Street... she must be anti-sex!"

First of all, it's not necessarily true, unless you posit from go that "anti-sex" means "only sex I have is okay."

Which I'm not sure we can. I mean, clearly she finds various fetishes silly, which I think it a real waste of time and energy. But is that really anti-sex? Only if your audience ALREADY BUYS that even silly-seeming sex is something it's not good to have a negative opinion of.

Which is my opinion, yeah, but I'm not sure it helps matters to confuse someone saying something mean and stupid with someone advocating oppression.

I find it more productive to encourage people to think about the similarities in rhetoric between "NIPPLES ON MAIN STREEEEET!!" and "SODOMY IN THE FRONT YARRRRRRRRRD!, and ask people who may be squicked or nervous about BDSM to think about whether they really want to ally themselves with such closely similar thinking.

EthylBenzene said...

I don't understand this phenomenon, not when it comes from anti-gay bigots, and not when it comes from anti-BDSM radfems. Me? I don't give a crap what people do behind closed doors, and I don't sit around thinking of depraved things they COULD be doing.

But... I don't think it's an accident,or a fluke, that the anti-whatever bigots do just that. I mean, I know it's kind of not done to just claim they're projecting their own secret fantasies (as filtered through whatever repressed and messed up stuff is in their heads), but... It sure is compelling, you know?

I mean, sure, it's facile and makes it easy for us to find some satisfying irony in the whole mess, but I do think there's a glimmer of truth there, too...

Trinity said...

"I mean, I know it's kind of not done to just claim they're projecting their own secret fantasies (as filtered through whatever repressed and messed up stuff is in their heads), but... It sure is compelling, you know?"

I don't think it's necessarily their fantasies, as in stuff they want to do. But I do get the impression from some people who get really lurid all of a sudden, like this, that it's... a way for them to talk about things they otherwise could not.

Myca said...

Ahh, I see what you're saying, Trin, but I think you've misunderstood my point (because I phrased it badly).

I didn't mean that they use the "it's all about the public sex" pose in order to mask a general anti-sex stance, but rather to make a specific indefensible anti-sex stance into something that is defensible.

It's the same reason that they deny consent so often . . . because if what you're saying is, "I don't think you and your consenting adult partner should do (these specific) things in the privacy of your own bedroom that make you both sexually satisfied," nobody will take you seriously.

It's much more effective, and you get taken much more seriously if you say, "Despite your claims, you and your partner are not actually consenting," or, "Despite your claims, you and your partner are not doing these things in the privacy of your own bedroom," or, "Despite your claims, you and your partner are not actually ending up sexually satisfied."

I've seen some version of one of these three claims so many times I've lost count. "Oh honeyy, you're not REALLY happy, you just think you are. "Oh honey, you're not REALLY consenting, you're brainwashed!"

It's because once the premises are granted, there's not much left to argue against, so they must challenge the premises.

---Myca

Mighty Fast Pig said...

It's interesting that the rhetoric used in this discourse is exactly the kind of arguments used against gays. E.g.:

"Kinky people want unlimited sexual anarchy, if we let them."

"Kinky people cannot function in the workplace without bothering others."

"Kinky people cannot keep their sexuality separate from children, or even from bystanders."

Again, kinky people are portrayed as inherently disruptive and uncontrollable, as a threat that cannot be allowed to exist.

Add this to the pathologizing of kink and kinky people, and I see a lot of parallels between anti-gay rhetoric and anti-kink rhetoric.

Trinity said...

"It's much more effective, and you get taken much more seriously if you say, "Despite your claims, you and your partner are not actually consenting," or, "Despite your claims, you and your partner are not doing these things in the privacy of your own bedroom," or, "Despite your claims, you and your partner are not actually ending up sexually satisfied."

Oh yeah, I do think they're doing this. I'm just not sure that this is something I'd call "anti-sex."

More "culty." It's "we have the answer."

Usually it's also "because we made up the question."

Trinity said...

"It's interesting that the rhetoric used in this discourse is exactly the kind of arguments used against gays."

That's exactly what I and others have been saying. ND wrote the post to refute that assertion.

In my eyes, though, she's STILL a straight person telling queer ones what does and does not sound like homophobes' rhetoric.

That she's got lesbian friends who aren't upset by it is worth about as much as "but my black friend told me that wasn't racist!"

Rachel said...

The issue I have with the OP quoted comment, is that it's okay for queer folk to say "don't steal my movement's thunder", but if racial minorities say the same thing to the queer folk they're called homophobes. There's a word for this... hypocrisy. Although, I'm sure I'm not the only one to have called that bit out.

Trinity said...

also, levity for a moment, but can someone explain to me what a "hipster" is? I've been trying to parse "hipster nihilist shit" for hours now.

Wikipedia tells me "hipster" seems to have something to do with fashion that arose out of anti-fashion. How exactly that's tied to SM I've got no idea. Other than fashion designers ripping off SM culture for ads.

Maybe the anti-fashion fashion bit of it has something to do with punkish stuff that became stylish?

I'm hopeless about these things.

Which is silly/funny, but I actually do wonder if it has any relevance. ND and some of her commenters have talked about chic progressive circles where SM seemed to be faddy, and I'm actually wondering if that influences their "it's a lifestyle and a choice" babble and refusal to think about what you're SAYING when you say that.

For me... yeah, what I found wasn't a club or a hip group, "ster" attached or not. I found middle-aged couples with mortgages, not people standing around looking cool.

I wonder if they *get* that.

Trinity said...

"The issue I have with the OP quoted comment, is that it's okay for queer folk to say "don't steal my movement's thunder", but if racial minorities say the same thing to the queer folk they're called homophobes. There's a word for this... hypocrisy. Although, I'm sure I'm not the only one to have called that bit out."

Rachel,

I'm not sure I agree. I do think there's *something* to "don't compare oppressions", and I think there's something to people of color getting tired of white queers using the language of the civil rights movement over and over.

I mean, I agree that all oppressions interlock, but I think there's also a case for understanding each social struggle in context.

What I don't think is out of bounds is "hey, this tactic happens here, and here, and here..."

Lissy said...

"More "culty." It's "we have the answer."

Usually it's also "because we made up the question.""


Culty! Yes! Think like we do or you are just 'wrong'!

And if we do ask for your contribution and if your answer doesn't fit our theory (*cough-ideaology-cough*) then... its not that our theory is wrong! Oh no! It's that you, the person, are wrong but we can help you: join us, stop your kinky 'sinful' lifestyle choices and be 'righteous' and feminist like us!

I keep thinking that this discussion is more about read-fem identity wanking than any interest or concern, about the experiences of real kinky people.

If she was really interested 9-2 might have asked "Well although I'm not sure its possible, how do sub women separate out the patriarchy from the power exchange in their relationships then?"

That would be an interesting discussion with some practical benefit for those who do wonder about these things. Instead what I see is 9-2 trying to make her own hetero-normativity acceptable to her rad fem mates by beating up on kinksters. The timing just seems a bit suss...

Pharaoh Katt said...

This bit hasn't been addressed yet, but:
This entire culture is structured upon the oppression of gender roles and the model of a patriarchal two gender family.

Um... no? What ever happened to same sex BDSM couples? Or poly BDSM couples? I know they exist in my circle, and am pretty damn sure they exist outside my circle too.

It does make me wonder if she has paid any attention to the debates.

EthylBenzene said...

Trinity said:
"I don't think it's necessarily their fantasies, as in stuff they want to do. But I do get the impression from some people who get really lurid all of a sudden, like this, that it's... a way for them to talk about things they otherwise could not."

Hmmm. I like this. I think what I'm getting at is it's fine to explore this vivid imagination thing as a rhetorical device, but I really also think there is something else going on there, something about darkness and fantasy and imagining the unimaginable...

Anonymous said...

I think fighting for the 'right' to public sex is a consistent demand of queer struggles. Public sex is an important part of queer culture (whether in bars or public restrooms or parks). I'd fight to keep cops out of cruising spots.

So yes, why not be able to walk around naked or fuck in public? Sex and nakedness wonderful.

EthylBenzene said...

Pharaoh --
"It does make me wonder if she has paid any attention to the debates."

Isn't this just the most infuriating thing? It blows my mind -- all these hundreds of posts and responses, all this writing, all these "sick" people she's supposedly "responding" to, and she just does not seem to have absorbed even the slightest bit of what we've been saying. This is definitely par for the course, but geez is it annoying.

Trinity said...

Pharoah Katt: When she said "this whole culture is..." I assumed she meant society at large. As in, "we're all living under patriarchy" etc.

Anonymous said...

Also, most contemporary BDSM culture is rooted in the gay BDSM scene, even if it's separate from it now. The radical feminist idiots are heterosexists with no understanding of history. They completely write gay men out of the history of s/m, leaving the history with huge gaping holes*.

Tonight at 7! ND cruises a leather dyke bar! ND visits a gay dungeon!

Trinity said...

Anony: Honestly, I don't really give a fuck if people cruise, and I think there's infinitely better things for cops to be doing than looking for people who do.

That said, I ALSO think that BDSM of the sort Miss Lurid there is imagining isn't appropriate in public. BDSM (however trendy or not it is, har de har de har) often looks edgy or harsh, and obvious displays of it are not something I think should go on in front of children.

I would think this would be true even in a society where people in general were much freer about sexuality

Trinity said...

"Also, most contemporary BDSM culture is rooted in the gay BDSM scene, even if it's separate from it now. The radical feminist idiots are heterosexists with no understanding of history. They completely write gay men out of the history of s/m, leaving the history with huge gaping holes*."

I've said this myself repeatedly.

This whole brouhaha is making me want to go to a leather bar anyway... heh.

Trinity said...

I think some of it may be that old "see one difference at a time" thing.

That is, either you're pegged (ha!) in these people's minds as "The Kinky One" (hetero by default) or "The LGBT One" (vanilla by default).

Anonymous said...

Leather bars, huge gaping holes... yes, I'm getting off the computer now and going to do something more... interesting!

Trinity said...

ANony: yeah, the same thing happened to me in writing my last couple comments. My brain went

"'you're slotted into'... no that sounds kind of dirty... 'you're pegged'... oh the hell with it let's leave it dirty then!"

Hah.

emarkienna said...

That's quite special - she defends the criticism of being like a homophobe, by saying the very things that we're talking about: the things that homophobes say with respect to homosexuality, with claims such as wanting to do it in public, or reducing what we feel to the sexual acts ("When a man loves a woman, that's natural, but how dare you compare that to a man sticking his thing into another man's bottom!").

One big straw man. She also fails at logic - the point is that kink is a part of people's sexuality, but this doesn't mean that homosexuality is a kink - no one is claiming that.

Unfortunately, just because someone is homosexual or bisexual doesn't mean they are immune to being prejudiced. Consider Julie Bindel's recent rant against transsexuals, where she even lists bisexuality alongside "cat-fancying" as something that she doesn't want associated with gay rights.

And I speak as someone who is bisexual, and submissive and masochist; both are part of my sexuality, and I find it sad when someone defends one part of me, only to stigmatise the other. (I also remember this classic post from LiveJournal a few years ago, where someone decides to whine about BDSMers wanting to compare themselves to homosexuals - but the funniest thing is that it turns out the poster was straight...

Trinity said...

"she defends the criticism of being like a homophobe, by saying the very things that we're talking about: the things that homophobes say with respect to homosexuality, with claims such as wanting to do it in public, or reducing what we feel to the sexual acts ("When a man loves a woman, that's natural, but how dare you compare that to a man sticking his thing into another man's bottom!")."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

SnowdropExplodes said...

You see, this is exactly the sort of thing I talk about when I say that I ducked out for the protection of my mental health!

**growlysnarlywrath**

The whole idea that it's "hip", and part of some "trendy nihilism" or something like that - shit, I've been severely messed up by there not being anyone I could talk to about this, let alone anyone who might conceivably have found it "trendy".

If she's somehow thinking of goth culture, then I suppose she missed the part about goths being beaten up, and sometimes to death, by non-goths.

Okay, I'm done with the snarlygrowliness now.

Trinity said...

"The whole idea that it's "hip", and part of some "trendy nihilism" or something like that - shit, I've been severely messed up by there not being anyone I could talk to about this, let alone anyone who might conceivably have found it "trendy"."

I guess you and me are just SQUARE, SD. Otherwise we'd know EVERYBODEH'S DOIN' IT!!!

Pharaoh Katt said...

Ethyl: Yes! If you're going to argue with me, at least pay attention to what I'm arguing.

Trin: I didn't read it that way, but if that's what she meant, makes a lot more sense. Still though, claiming patriarchal culture is like that, and then saying we aren't "challenging the status quo" still feels like she's discounting those couples that *do* challenge it because they are gay or poly or whatever.

Pharaoh Katt said...

I guess I'm just getting sick of this "just like the patriarchy" meme, when there is so much more to it than that.

Trinity said...

Pharoah: Oh, I agree with you totally. But if you say that to them, they'll likely come back with bullshit of some flavor similar to this so they can continue thinking that only people like them are Twoo Pwogwessives or something.

Pharaoh Katt said...

That's right, man-as-abuser, woman-as-victim is progressive! How could we have been so blind?

Thanks for posting about this stuff, I'm not sure my anger makes for comprehensive analysing.

Trinity said...

Thanks for the thanks, PK.

Dw3t-Hthr said...

A pity one can't stop global warming by recycling hackneyed bigotries, isn't it?

SnowdropExplodes said...

I guess you and me are just SQUARE, SD. Otherwise we'd know EVERYBODEH'S DOIN' IT!!!

Now I have snippets of two different songs in my head:

First, rock'n'roll classic "You're So Square (Baby I Don't Care)".

Secondly, the Paddy Roberts song "Baby You're A Square", which he introduces as "I'm having a dig at rock'n'rollers with this one. It's just sour grapes really, because I can't write their music." It includes the immortal line (one among many!) "... and if you like your loving legal..." If I had a USB turntable I'd upload it with a video on youtube.

Renegade Evolution said...

The second it is socially acceptable for me to torture someone in public, I am SO finding a new job...

Shit, that sounded creepy, didn't it? Sigh.

I find this whole thing ironic, esp. coming from a gay person...I mean, the fear was that homosexuals would do all that homosexual stuff...IN THE STREETS...as if they are any more likely to than BDSM people? Or vice versa?

Pfft.

Cereus Sphinx said...

Mighty Fast Pig:

The way I see it is that any sexual activity that harms/encroaches on those not involved in it is ok and should not be illegal. So I think that "anarchist" isn't such a bad label. However, the "anarchist" stereotype might be in people's minds here.

Snowdrop:

I can actually see some parallels between Goths and BDSMers in the sense of embracing darkness as an inherent part of life versus embracing pain etc. as part of sex. And anyone who thinks Goths have it good are not necessarily correct.

Anonymous said...

Let's assume we live in a world where homosexuality and heterosexuality are equally acceptable and fall under the same "decency" standard we currently have, for the sake of the argument. Example: a man and a woman holding hands or kissing is seen as no better or worse than two men or two women doing the same.

Under the above assumption, how would you express your BDSM relationship/s in public? Would it/they be different?

I ask as a kinkster myself, and my answer is no, my public expression wouldn't change. Since the issue of BDSM and the public has consistently come up in ND's tirades (and since I'm not an activist or involved in any BDSM communities), I'm curious about your/anyone else's answers.

Trinity said...

"Under the above assumption, how would you express your BDSM relationship/s in public? Would it/they be different?"

No.

Dw3t-Hthr said...

Different from my vanilla relationships or different from now?

Either way, no.

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