When a public figure you like is accused of sexual assault…

TW: discussion of sexual assault, rape culture, talk of suicidal thoughts

Yes, I am talking about Ghomeshi, although before yesterday I knew nothing about him, how famous he was, what he was famous for, etc. I have been reading up on him today, because there were some red flags I saw in the comments people were making about the CBC firing him.

You can look it up, or read up a bit here. I am not going to talk about his case in particular, but about feelings and knee-jerk reactions we may have when a public figure we like is accused of sexual assault. [A lot of feelings are similar to when someone we like and know personally is accused, but that would be a larger conversation which I don’t have time to write about now.]


First, I am going to tell you a short story about Conor Oberst. I grew up listening to his music. And when I say listening, I don’t mean bobbing my head to some chill tunes. I mean crying my eyes out, planning the best way to kill myself, finding something close enough to solace in his angsty, shaking voice. I cried when I saw him live. I followed his angsty self to the depths of every musical project he embarked on, know every lyric, and I have heard and seen every single piece of media written about him. This is no joking matter.

He had some rape accusations of his own happen earlier this year, about a thing that happened (or “allegedly” happened, or not even allegedly anymore because the survivor withdrew her statements) about 12 years ago. When I read about these accusations, my heart stopped for a second. My first reaction was to say it wasn’t true. It couldn’t be true. The first article I read was clearly biased against the survivor (COLOR ME SHOCKED) and it worked on me for a few minutes. Her story was flaky, she had had contradicting statements in the past 12 years, etc. But then I stopped myself, and repeated my mantra: always believe survivors, always believe survivors. So I looked into it more, I read what she had said, her reasons (or lack thereof) for lying, his situation at the time, etc. I concluded that I believed her.

Even when she withdrew her statement against him, I believed her. Why? Because I wasn’t there, and I am not a court of law, but statistically speaking, and given all the facts, she was likely a victim. Because my feelings wanted to side with him – and that is what most abusers are counting on: they are charming, likeable, innocent looking (I am burrowing words from you, Malek Yalaoui). Abuse, and impunity for that abuse, wouldn’t work otherwise. Now, again, I won’t go into details, but to this day, regardless of what the official, legal or public papers say: I cannot side with Conor. I can love his music for all that it’s done for me, and I can appreciate his genius, but I cannot side with him. I will never know the truth, and the accusations have been dropped, but I cannot side with him. He could be innocent, sure, but I cannot side with him.

And don’t get me wrong. It was not easy. I cried about it, I wrote at least three drafts to things I never published. I couldn’t. His art had helped me survive, and he could be a rapist. It is fucking hard. But I cannot fucking side with him just because it is hard.


And on to more solid, withstanding, “official” allegations: Your feelings about John Lennon or his art don’t make him less of a domestic abuser. Your feelings about Woody Allen or his art don’t make him any less of a child molester. Your feelings about Roman Polanski or his art don’t make him any less of a rapist. YOUR FEELINGS ABOUT GHOMESHI (and whatever he does) DO NOT MAKE HIM ANY LESS OF A SEXUAL PREDATOR.

I know it is hard, okay? You grew up listening to him, liking him. You may have some personal stories relating to him – that time you listened to him with your grandpa, or when you laughed a lot at his jokes with your wife. I do not know your stories. But I get it: you do not want to think that someone you like, someone you may respect, someone you have written erotic fanfiction about (I don’t know, okay? It happens) is a rapist. But your feelings don’t change the facts. They just make them more complex and hard to think about. But they can also allow abusers to continue abusing, because they know – and trust me, a media-savvy charmer like Ghomeshi KNOWS THIS VERY WELL – that you will think they are too nice/hot/charming/young/innocent-looking/left-wing/”feminist ally” to be abusers.

It says a lot about our culture, about rape culture, that we think because he is charming and good looking and funny and young, that the women must be lying. Their negatives are not possible because charm=consent? NO. But it is true that it is easier to think that than to realize we live in a world where bad guys are not easily identifiable by their horns and their fangs and their neon signs that say “predator”. (And how racist, classist, and ageist it often is when we do think someone looks like a predator, huh? Another topic for another day.)

What I mean is: talk about your feelings, by all means. Process them, write them down. Hell, cry them out. Mourn your loss (Conor Oberst may be alive and kicking, but he is pretty dead to me.) But do not for a second condone an abuser just because repeating to yourself that they are innocent is emotionally easier than admitting that they did the fucked up thing.
Edit: While this post was written about Ghomeshi, and my story with Oberst, it is unfortunately timeless, it seems. So, really, it is a post about the complexities of rape culture and pop culture and problematic (I hate using that term, it hides all sorts of horrors under a meaningless blanket word) rapist faves.

 

[Besides what you can Google yourself, which may or may not be victim-blaming trash, here are a couple extra links:]

poor prosecuted pervert? in defense of BDSM and critical of Jian’s claims, by Andrea Zanin.

On Jian Ghomeshi and Rape Culture

Liking ‘Q’ Isn’t a Good Enough Reason to Side with Jian

An amazing Twitter convo with Anne Teriault on believing the abuser.

I’ll Believe Jian’s Accuser Before I Believe a Man in Power

Notes on The Feminist Porn Book | Take 3

Continuing with my series of notes on The Feminist Porn Book, I am taking this next one from Candida Royalle’s essay, “What’s a Nice Girl Like You…”

This quote is about porn but really it’s about every aspect of sexuality, IMHO.

“If women don’t create their own erotic visions, their own sexual language, men will continue to do it for us and we’ll never fully understand our own unique sexual nature.” Candida Royalle

Candida Royale was one of the first women to make “porn for women” – a term that, although now problematic, spoke in its beginnings (and still does today to an extent) to a need for porn that was not so into money shots, not so lacking in foreplay and in female orgasms, porn with a little more conversation to go with the action, please (geddit?).

This quote – or rather, how I think about it – is about much more than that, though.

Of course, having women (or anyone that is not cis, hetero, able-bodied, male & white) direct & call the shots in porn allows for others fantasies to be explored, other bodies to be shown, other types of sex to be represented. And that is awesome. That is not the start, or the end of it, though.

Across the board, it is primarily men deciding what our bodies should look like, how we should feel about them, what they should mean to us, and how it is acceptable to use our own bodies and sexuality. Mass media, the “medical community”, mainstream porn, the beauty industry: they are by and large owned by white cis-het able-bodied rich men who get to tell everyone what sexy looks like, what normal looks like, what acceptable, healthy sexuality should look like.

[Oddly enough, if you ask me, enthusiastic consent is the only “should” that has a place when it comes to sexuality, and yet it is the one thing that none of these industries seem to care about.]

We could be the ones calling the shots on what our bodies feel like and what we want them to look like. We could be the ones calling the shots on what our fantasies are, what our sex looks & tastes & sounds & feels like, and if and when we choose to even have it.

This is something we can all learn from feminist pornographers: we get to decide what we think is sexy, acceptable, desirable, healthy for us & our bodies. And your sexy, acceptable, desirable & healthy will not necessarily (or likely) look like my sexy, acceptable, desirable & healthy, and that’s okay. That’s friggin’ awesome, in fact, because choice is at the heart of feminism & sex-positivity, and should be at the heart of just basic human decency, to be honest.

We don’t have to make our own porn for this to be the case – although if you feel so inclined, please do make your own porn, and tell me all about it afterwards! Everytime we are thinking about our own body and sexuality & feel a “should” question coming to our brain (should I ask them to take out the whips? should I lose a few pounds? should I wear this tight glittery dress?), we could replace the should with a want. Do we want to ask them to take out the whips? Do we want to lose a few pounds? Do we want to wear the tight glittery dress?

As long as we ask and get the consent of everyone involved in whatever is going on – and no, your judgmental fatphobic aunt is not INVOLVED in your weight – then you should feel free to do whatever you want to do.

Going back to the quote, moreover, if we don’t start (or continue) pushing back against what the media, the beauty industry, most of mainstream porn, & the patriarchy at large tells us to look, feel & fuck like, the powers that be will continue to do it for us. And how do we fight back? Sometimes it is one outfit choice at a time, or one sexy session, or one meal, or one heartfelt conversation. Hell, even a selfie at a time. One shame-induced should at a time.

 

This is not to say of course that we are at fault if we are unable, unwilling or too exhausted to push back & fight the oppressive systems that tell us we don’t look the part, we don’t fuck right, we don’t do as we should. It’s okay to be tired of fighting back; it is okay if you don’t feel emotionally or physically safe doing so.

The corporations, the media, the government should be the one changing to become better at representing its costumers, its consumers, its people. Some brave folks work everyday from within these systems & structures & institutions to try to shift gears towards more humane capitalism (is that even a real thing, I ask?) It is not enough though, and it will never be.

Empowerment & resistance start at home, because body- & sex-negative capitalism – or sketchy, sexist, racist porn, for that matter – isn’t going to hand over the power. We gotta take it ourselves.

—————-

If you are looking for this mighty book on your local (buy local pretty plz) bookstore or library, here is the bibliography:

Taormino, Tristan; Celine Parreñas Shimizu, Constance Penley, Mireille Miller-Young (eds). The Feminist Porn Book: The politics of producing pleasure. The Feminist Press: New York, 2013.

 

Related bits (re: shame, empowerment, sex-positivity)

What Revenge Porn Tells Us About Sex and Humilliation | Charlie Glickman

The cost of sexual shame | The Salon

Megan Falley – “Fat Girl” (poem)

Notes on The Feminist Porn Book | Take 2

I am continuing my series of entries on quotes from one of the sex-posi favorites in my bookshelf, The Feminist Porn Book.

“You see, erotic filmmakers were the original indie filmmakers. The fact that their films turned you on was no different from a different genre scaring the daylights out of you, or making you cry. Films are great vehicles to elicit strong emotion. When they touch you on multiple levels simultaneously, we call them ‘masterpieces'” Susie Bright

This quote speaks to the movie lover in me. I don’t know a lot (actually, nothing at all) about film, so my reaction to movies is very simple: I like it the most when it makes me feel something – anything.

I appreciate the quote because it attempts – as I and many sexuality educators do as well – to normalize porn and porn consumption. Just like sex work is still work but is treated very differently (and sometimes violently) because sex is taboo in our society, porn flicks are still flicks that are treated very differently , often because the emotions and sensations (arousal, pleasure) it can produce are taboo in our society. The taboo gives us a story about the society it lives in, but it is not a valid reason to judge the work itself, the porn movie itself.

We sometimes think of or perceive pleasure as unacceptable, inappropriate, shameful. But really, fear, excitement, anger: they’re all ways in which our bodies and brains are aroused. It’s the same thing with sexual arousal.

This quote also says a lot about how pornographic films – I don’t mean PornHub four-minute videos here – are looked down upon when they take their own set of skills and they are their own genre, within film and media. Both mainstream and feminist porn have certain conventions, standards, particular practices to the genre. Same with actors – just like not every average Joe can pull off what Tom Hiddleston (and his stunt doubles, I guess) can, not a lot of gals can do flexibility, grace & endurance like Stoya can.

Susie Bright’s quote reminds me, moreover, of the fact that pornography (as is clasified by whoever classifies pornography) is not the only type of film, or media, that can sexually arouse. I don’t know about my readers, but seeing Loki making everyone kneel is a pretty intense experience.

All jokes aside, different images and mediums and formats arouse different people, but they are not all treated the same way. To mark as pornographic the media that has sexual arousal as a purpose makes sense, I guess, but it is also alienating. A shoe fetishist can enjoy watching Sex & The City more than they enjoy YouPorn, for all I know. And THAT IS OKAY. Pleasure as one of many sensations and emotions that film, or TV, brings out in us, is okay.

Now you may think, “Well yes, but isn’t it calling some porn film a masterpiece a bit of a stretch?” I don’t really know. I don’t think so. A porno, within its genre & era & budget & goals, CAN be a masterpiece. Just like you can’t (or would probably be mistaken to) compare an Action movie to a Documentary – because the skills, the required talents, the money going into them, etc are not comparable – I would not ask anyone to compare, I don’t know, No Country for Old Men to Much More Pussy.

(Even the criticism of porn as being racist, sexist, with sometimes sketchy work conditions. I hate to say it but most industries have varying degrees of racism, sexism, & it is always the case that the more an employee needs a job, the more an employer feels like they can abuse their power. Sexism, classism, violence, racism, ablesim: they are society issues, not pornography issues.)

I guess what I am trying to say is, don’t be so quick to judge or look down on the porn flicks, or the porn performers, or the porn consumers. Their art is not all that different & neither are their struggles.

——————-

If you are looking for this mighty book on your local (buy local pretty plz) bookstore or library, here is the bibliography:

Taormino, Tristan; Celine Parreñas Shimizu, Constance Penley, Mireille Miller-Young (eds). The Feminist Porn Book: The politics of producing pleasure. The Feminist Press: New York, 2013.

Notes on The Feminist Porn Book | Take 1

I recently read The Feminist Porn Book by Tristan Taormino. It is such a great book, and Taormino, as well as all the other authors who contributed essays to it, have amazing brains.

I love talking about porn with people and listening to their opinions. This book definitely helped me in polishing and re-conceptualizing my own, and has equipped me with more information and perspectives to be able to help and guide others in their journey through porn & porn critique.

I decided to write a series of (shorter than usual) blog posts about different quotes from the book that are thought-provoking, fun, and/or great to talk about. Please comment, add to, disagree with, and share through the comments, on social media or wherever you feel like bringing up porn (hey, Easter is coming up!). Communication is what keeps us learning and growing!

I will start with a quote from the Introduction which I think is VERY relatable to many, and I think speaks to one of the reasons I love feminist porn.

“Feminist porn does not shy away from the darker shades of women’s fantasies. It creates space for realizing the contradictory ways in which our fantasies do not always line up with our politics or ideas of who we think we are.”  – Constance Penley, Celine Parreñas Shimizu, Mireille Miller-Young, Tristan Taormino

It is very simply put here, which I love about the quote, but really it speaks to a complex, ongoing process of deconstruction, critique and mindfullness that feminism has always dealt with in different ways with different phenomena.

The internal battle between desire & politics, fantasy & activism, the personal as political, is not exclusive to porn, of course. For decades certain currents within and outside of feminism have criticized femme identity of being internalized misogyny, sex work of being a weapon and a victim of the patriarchy, fetishism as being just another form of female objectification, to name a few instances. Hell, even being attracted to cis men is sometimes subject to feminist, queer criticism. Ask bisexual communities.

The thing about porn, and about sex & sexuality at large, is that we do not pick and choose what turns us on. Sure, desire is to an extent malleable, but it is hardly voluntary. Either something has orgasmic potential or it doesn’t. What we protest against during the day may very well be what we ask our partners to (consensually!!) act out with us at night.

Think about BDSM, abduction fantasies or rape (role)play, D/s relationships, maid/slave/schoolgirl role-play. These are all things for which (primarily people raised as) women who enjoy them, in particular when these women want to play out the submissive role, often face external and/or internal criticism, shame, accusations of betrayal to the movement. “Am I perpetuating rape culture?” “Why do I want a man to be physically/verbally violent with me in bed?” “Am I furthering the stereotype that (all) women WANT to be submissive (outside of bed too)?”

My answer would be NO, people whose desires take them to submissive roles, feminine attitudes, and/or ANYTHING ELSE for that matter, are not perpetuating anything. They are (consensually, duh) enjoying their sex lives, which is awesome, healthy and empowering. And they are acting upon their own bodies as they please. Isn’t choice and self-determination what feminism is all about?

Now, we – the book & I both, I mean – aren’t saying that fantasies, BDSM, porn, etc should be exempted from intersectional feminist critique. Feminist porn is about allowing that critique to happen – in front and behind the camera, as well as in the audience & under the sheets, there should be discussion & reflection of why and how and when these things are happening, ways to be ethical & humane about them, etc.

But feminist porn – and sex-positivity in general, I would say – is about acknowledging that our politics are no less valid because we don’t get off on them. It is also about being mindful that our desires are just as big a part of us as our ideologies, and that paying attention to both is not an impossible contradiction but rather a useful tool in knowing ourselves and others better.

Feminist porn does not pretend these “darker shades of women’s fantasies” don’t exist, nor does it judge & police them. It exposes them, is highly aware of them, comments on them, and ultimately allows them to be. This is something to love and admire and try to bring to our lives: feminist porn allows (or tries its best to allow) all shades of human emotion & sexuality to just be.

————————-

If you are looking for this mighty book on your local (buy local pretty plz) bookstore or library, here is the bibliography:

Taormino, Tristan; Celine Parreñas Shimizu, Constance Penley, Mireille Miller-Young (eds). The Feminist Porn Book: The politics of producing pleasure. The Feminist Press: New York, 2013.

Related bits (re: fantasy, feminism, BDSM):

Laci Green’s vid on Female Sexual Fantasies

The Pervocracy: “How can you be a feminist and do BDSM?”

Feminist Halestorm: Consensual Non-Consent. Trigger warning for discussion of rape.

————–

What do YOU think about fantasies, feminist porn & the politics of desire?

FYI: to my one-day-to-be teenage nephews

Today I read this one article that pretty much forced me to throw away all responsibilities and get to writing on this blog again (which is great!). The first thing I thought was “those poor boys”, quickly followed by “OH MY GOD WHAT IF MY NEPHEWS GOT THESE HORRIBLE IDEAS FROM SOMEONE?”, and, while I would like to think they are being and will continue to be raised better than that, I also wanted to write a letter to their future teenage selves.

Granted, I am not a parent. I may or may not become a parent. But I swear to Jimi, my intentions towards those gorgeous, amazing little boys are parent-like. Plus, anyone with half a sense of what is actually wrong with the world can tell what was wrong with that article, with or without having given birth.

 

Now, for the sake of this letter (and how heteronormative the original one was) I am going to assume my nephews are heterosexual. They are 1 and 3 now, so I have no idea and I don’t really care who or what they do in that respect. I am also being quite sarcastic in how I mimic the original letter’s structure and content. But all in all, it is pretty much what I would say to them.

 

Dear boys,

I have some information that might interest you. I don’t creep on your social media – and really hope your parents don’t either, because that shit’s creepy and wrong and not even beneficial to anyone – but I know we trust each other and so I have seen some of your pictures with your teenage gal friends.

You are teenage boys, and you may or may not have a lot of lady friends – you don’t have to in order to be a man’s man, and there is no “naturally” in how you define your own masculinity and boys will not be “boys” if they don’t want to, I hope you know that. If you do like having a lot of gal friends, though, that is cool too. You own your own body and mind and goddamn Facebook profile.

Anyhoo, back to the pictures. They have cute bedrooms, don’t they? I noticed and you noticed too because I really hope we are past stupid stereotypes of boys have dirty rooms and don’t even see color and “girls have pink everything and basically smell pink” by the time you are in your teens. They are also really clean rooms, like yours. I don’t even need to say this to you, that hygiene is not a girly thing, it is just good sense, and that having somewhat dirty rooms is not a guy thing, it is a teenager thing.

Look at all the interesting books and magazines and fun things they have, though! I know you notice because, contrary to what media often portrays, men are capable of seeing beyond bra-less breasts. Perhaps she could recommend you a book? She seems really smart and wonderful and I know you know this as well.

Now, you may notice other things – I am not assuming that because you are a boy (hell, I notice breasts too from time to time, although I don’t really look at that in teenage girls’ photos), but because you are into girls (not all girls, of course, like all human beings you have preferences and choices) and there are girls in those pictures. Some pictures have girls posing in their pj’s, some pictures have boys and girls hanging out in their swim suits, some pictures have people dancing at a party.

 

Now, you may have heard an unhealthy amount of talk about teenage girls and women and how they should act and dress and talk.

So, here’s the bit that I think is important for you to realize: those pictures are not about you. The poses they make and the clothes they wear are completely independent of you, and me, and everyone other than themselves for that matter. As such, they are not yours to judge or try to dictate over. Women are not yours to judge or dictate over.

What you do own and dictate over is your own behavior towards those pictures and towards those women. It is fairly normal that you notice their lack of bra or their curves or their pretty eyes or their pose. You have eyes – we all do. What is not okay is for you to reduce them to their bodies and their poses and choice of attire, because just like you and your parents and me and everyone else, they are complex and whole people and you should respect them and treat them as such.

Speaking of complex and whole people – you are such complex and whole individuals. You have the ability to see someone dressed one or another way and know that that means nothing about their personality, their intentions, their character, their intellect, their sexuality, etc. You have the ability to be attracted to someone – sexually or not – and act or not act on it depending on how appropriate, consensual, convenient (or whatever) it would be. You – as any other human being – have will, reasoning, and self control. To sum this up, and to clarify – given all the ideas that the media and crazy mothers around the internet will have you think – WHAT YOU SAY OR DO OR THINK IN REGARDS TO A WOMAN AND A WOMAN’S BODY IS ON YOU, NOT ON HER. And before another crazy person on the internet says anything: unless a girl/woman comes up to you and verbally, explicitly asks you “can you please view me sexually?”, nothing else she ever does is asking for you to do so. So, I am sorry to break it to you, buddies, but it is on you.

Please know that I genuinely get what you see in those pictures and all of that. We are sexual beings, and you boys are raised (hopefully not too much) to think that sexualizing and objectifying women is what boys do, and that it is a woman’s fault when you do it. I believe in you, though, because you are insightful, smart, and very, very funny. It is a unique lens you have, that of a teenage boy, because your hormones are all over the place and you think of things you don’t know much about yet. It is okay, it is even fun! But that does not mean that your teenage gal friends are responsible for your erection.

Which is what makes this such an important topic to discuss.

Those messages in the media don’t reflect who you are at all, though! I think you guys are lovely and interesting and usually very smart. I cringe and wonder what the people saying these things are trying to do or who you are trying to reach by blaming women for men’s behavior. What are they trying to say? That you are incapable of discerning between clothing and character? That you lack self-restraint? That you are a primitive monkey who is governed by his boners and who cannot unsee nakedness? I know you would be insulted by this, and I know you are more than that.

And now – big bummer – we have to sit here and talk about crappy messages being said to you. Because, the reason we have these (hopefully not too awkard) family conversations around the table is that we are not sex-negative slut-shaming assholes (assholes are actually very smart organs, but that is another subject for another future time) like so many people all over the world. I would never block any of those messages from you though, because that is a violation of your right to information (as false and ridiculous as it may be) and because I trust you to make your own decisions regarding the messages you get. I can only hope you continue to trust me enough to bring those messages to the table to discuss openly about.

I care about you deeply, just as I know that teenage girls’ families care about them and would like their friends to be decent human beings who take responsibility for their own behaviours.

I know their family would not be thrilled at the thought of you teenage boys making inappropriate jokes or comments about these girls’ bodies. Did you know that once you see a role model slut-shaming or making horrible jokes about women, you start thinking it is okay? And that once you say one such thing and no one calls you on it, they start rolling off your tongue? You don’t want people you care deeply for to see you as an ignorant, sexist, dudebro, do you?

Neither do I. I know you are much more than that.

And so, in this house, in our relationship with each other, there are always second chances, even if you say something you’ve heard somewhere that is kind of sexist or demeaning of other people in any way. But we would talk about it, and talk about it a lot. I know, so lame. But, if you want to be a decent and respectable human being, you will listen and keep an open mind. Or maybe you won’t, but I will say these things anyway, because I care. I also hope you grow up to know your privilege as a guy and know that with great power comes great responsibility – is that still a reference for you? I hope it is – so, yeah.

I know this sounds weird because I might (hopefull not) be the first one to tell you these things, but I am hoping to help you guys be great men with a strong moral compass, and men of integrity don’t linger endlessly over pictures of women, and if they do, they take responsibility for it.

Every day I pray  – nah, I don’t pray, who are we kidding – think about the women or men or whomever (because love is not just romantic love) that you will love and who will love you. I hope you are drawn to people who are beautiful and who know beauty is everywhere, not only on the outside and especially not only in clothing. I hope that you complement each other and make each other the best each of you wants to be. I don’t like the term “worthy” because it assumes some people aren’t , but I hope that you inspire respect because you give it too.

Guys, it is not too late to unlearn shitty messages! If you think you’ve made an online mistake – telling a girl she is a slut or that she looks fat or joking with your friends that her ass looked a certain way and that she is better/worse for that – you don’t have to run and take it down “before I see it”. I am not the CIA, a creepy mother, or the boss of you. Just acknowledge that it was wrong and apologize if necessary, and learn about ways you can become a better man in those respects. You don’t want to make comments or remarks that make it easy for people to assume you are a disrespectful human being, and see you in that dimension alone.

Will you trust me? There are girls out there waiting and hoping for men of character. Plenty of young men and women are fighting the daily uphill battle to keep their minds free of sexist, slut-shaming BS, and their thoughts praiseworthy – just like you.

You are growing into a real beauty, inside and out.

Act like that, speak like that, post like that.

 

Your loving aunt Lui

Es de viejas escribir chido.

Me encanta el lenguaje porque es moldeable, porque es poderoso. Pero como es esas dos cosas, puede moldearnos y ejercer poder sobre nosotros y otros. Es parte de nuestra identidad, de como nos ven otros. Es como vemos el mundo y cómo lo acomodamos y qué jerarquías permitimos o no. Puede ser súper íntimo – con códigos que sólo dos personas entienden, con palabras cariñosas que te dices frente al espejo cada mañana – o puede ser súper político. ES súper político, siempre, en a quien incluye y a quien excluye, a quien ofende y de quien es aliado. Aunque no estemos prestando atención, el lenguaje nos cae por detrás y nos apuñala en la espalda, evidenciando nuestros sentimientos, nuestros prejuicios más internalizados, nuestros privilegios, nuestra ignorancia. Creo que debemos prestar más atención, pues nuestra elección de palabras puede marcar la diferencia y dirigir qué conversaciones se tienen, a quiénes incluimos en vez de excluir, a quién dejamos de lastimar con lo que decimos.

El idioma como algo intrínsicamente sexista, racista y homofóbico es un tema demasiado amplio y complejo para abarcar ahora. Lo que quiero por ahora es compartir términos y frases que he estado adoptando o sacando de mi vocabulario, y porqué. Por supuesto, también los invito a explorar su propio uso del lenguaje y evaluarlo, investigarlo y cambiar hábitos a placer y necesidad. Son cosas pequeñitas que podemos hacer para mejorar nuestro entorno más inmediato, una interacción cotidiana a la vez.

Y pues algunos de estos términos y dicotomías que creo deberíamos de cambiar, son:

– Eso de “mi amigo gay” o “mi amiga lesbiana” cuando la orientación sexual no hace ni debería de hacer diferencia alguna en la conversación (o séase, la mayoría de los casos). A mi me parece como si el estándar es ser hetero y esa persona es la “rara” en tu círculo. También me hace pensar que tu juicio y el nuestro debería ser tomando en cuenta su orientación sexual, como si hiciera diferencia en el resto de su persona y experiencias automáticamente. Si estas usando eso como su identificador, estas poniendo esa parte de su persona por encima de otras características. Me hace pensar, de algunas personas, que lo están diciendo como si tener un amigo homosexual los hiciera más cool o mejores o más abiertos de mente o especiales, y todos debemos tomar nota de ello. Tener un amigo, gay o no, está chido, pero no te hace especial. Tener un amigo gay, igualmente, está chido, pero no te hace especial.

– Lo mismo va con “mi amigo negro”, “mi amigo transexual”, “mi amiga gorda”, “mi amigo sordo”. Son más que eso, en primera. Es como cuando dices “mi amigo guapo” (si te atraen los chicos, sobretodo), das a entender que eso es lo que más te importa o lo que primero pensaste para describirlos. Y no te oigo decir “mi amiga hetero”, “mi amigo cisgénero (volveré a este en un momento)”, “mi amigo sin problemas auditivos”. Usa otras cosas como referentes de preferencia, o no uses nada si lo que estas diciendo no tiene nada que ver con el adjetivo.

– Puedes intentar como yo usar ‘cisgénero’ para diferenciar de una persona ‘transgénero’. No digas ‘mujer de verdad’, o ‘mujer’ en oposición a ‘mujer transgénero’. Decir ‘mujer de verdad’ es más evidentemente ofensivo y transfóbico ya que estás quitándole validez al género e identidad de la persona transgénero, pero lo mismo pasa si dices solamente ‘mujer’. Estas marcando cual es el estándar y cual es la abnormalidad.

“Pero, yo digo normal como norma estadística”, ¿dices? Te tengo noticias, usamos esa excusa de normatividad estadística cuando queremos. Si decimos que es más normal que alguien hable inglés en Francia que Chino, estamos hablando de política, de visibilidad, de acceso, de recursos: eso es lo que nos hace pensar que es más normal. En una muestra aleatoria, considerando las probabilidades, sería más normal estadísticamente que hablaran chino, ¿que no? Mi analogía no es perfecta, pero creo que me hago entender.

“Pero, no conozco a nadie transgénero así que no estoy ofendiendo a nadie”, ¿figuras? Pues primero que nada, el león cree que todos son de su condición, a tí, ¿qué te hace pensar que sabes que hay bajo las pantaletas de todo mundo? Y aunque sea así, el lenguaje es como una bola de nieve. Tú usas el término cisgénero, dos personas de todas las que te escuchan se convencen y lo usan también, y ellos convencen a alguien más, y así se va. En algún punto del camino (o en todos), le diste voz a alguien que conoces y quieres, te separaste de la máquina que promueve la invisibilidad de la comunidad trans, detuviste a alguien que pudo haber lastimado, discriminado y ofendido a alguien más.

– Decir que algo es (y puede ser que esto sea más de la ciudad de la que vengo, pero existen términos así para toda latinoamérica, y casi podría decir que el mundo occidental) “súper marica” o “bien gay” en lugar de decir absurdo/estúpido/aburrido/cursi/molesto es 1) decir que esa actitud de la que se habla es de homosexuales lo cual es un estereotipo dañino, y 2) decir que esos adjetivos (aburrido, absurdo, etc) son equiparables con la gente que es homosexual. Es dar un juicio negativo a gente que es homosexual, tan simple como eso. No “te sientes super gay escribiendo esa canción”: te sientes ridícula, cursi, infantil, absurda. Que no son la misma cosa.

Asimismo, el que te digan “gay” como hombre o mujer hetero no debería ser un insulto, y no debería ser utilizado como insulto. Estamos diciendo que es malo ser gay, y no lo es.

Igualmente va para decir que “meter falta” (en fútbol) es “de putos”, ni hacer menos pesas es “de locas”. Meter falta es de gente cobarde, de gente abusiva, de gente grosera: adjetivos que no describen a gente homosexual (ni hablaré por ahora de esos insultos homofóbicos por sí solitos); hacer menos pesas es de personas con menos tono muscular, más delicadas, menos fuertes de brazos, menos experimentadas en el gimnasio, qué se yo.

– Lo mismo va para decir que algo es “de viejas” o que alguien está siendo “muy nena”, o portándose como “princesa” (dirigido a un hombre, usualmente). Estamos diciendo que algo (usualmente malo) es estereotípicamente de mujeres lo cual es en sí un prejuicio basado en roles de género arcáicos, y estamos diciendo que ser llamado mujer es algo malo y humillante para un hombre. Porque somos inferiores.

Mejor di “esto es de gente superficial” (que es en sí un juicio bien arrogante, pero ya mejor ni hablo), “estás siendo muy dramático” o “estás portándote demasiado demandante y quejumbroso”. Tan lindo que es el lenguaje y tan feo que es el sexismo.

– Relevante a recientes debates en Estados Unidos, y es algo que de ahora en adelante haré más esfuerzos por hacer: podríamos dejar de usar “matrimonio gay” en comparación con “matrimonio”. Voy a empezar a decir “matrimonio hetero”, pues ninguno debe ser más importante que otro, ni visto como más normal que otro. Son diferentes, como todos somos diferentes, pero no por jerarquía de normal vs anormal.

– A esta le voy a dedicar una entrada completa, pero déjense de decir zorras o putas o perras. ENTRE USTEDES. 1) Hacen que parezca bien que los hombres se refieran a nosotras así también, 2) ese insulto viene de un lugar sexista que pretende controlar nuestra sexualidad, y hacer de toda mujer que no cumpla con ciertos requisitos de “pureza” una “mala mujer”, la misma que obtiene lo que se merece si la violan o abusan de ella de alguna forma. 3) “Puta” se refiere a trabajadora sexual, y no debería ser ofensivo porque ser trabajadora sexual debería de ser tratado con dignidad. No son “menos” o “malas mujeres”. Pfft. y 4) si además del maltrato físico, económico, sexual, político de parte de hombres y el sistema misógino que los crió, nos vamos a estar tirando pedradas entre nosotras, estamos más de su lado que nunca.

Pues sí. Son unas cuantas maneritas en que podemos hacer del mundo un lugar más sano y más seguro para todos. Reconociendo prejuicios que tenemos bien por debajo de la piel hacemos que el ser racista, homofóbico, sexista sea menos aceptable para otros también.

"No es por ser racista, pero.." no es excusa para ser racista en el resto de la oración.

“No es por ser racista, pero..”, ESTAS SIENDO RACISTA.

En fin, los invito a cambiar hábitos de lenguaje, en serio. Es muy fácil y es un primer paso para quitarnos de muchas cosas que – créanme, no lo digo desde un pedestal, sé que es bien complicado – nos han enseñado muy probablemente desde peques.

Pues así es. Para otras cosillas chéveres acerca de prejuicios, lenguaje y otros:

Una propuesta para evitar el sexismo en el lenguaje

Nuestros prejuicios y la asociación implícita (o “controle a sus monstruos”)

Mulher Alternativa: 30+ exemplos de privilégio cisgênero

Cuando “zorra” no sea un insulto

I would say ‘mea culpa’ but I hated catechism.

Dear readers: I have been talking about marriage equality from a very privileged and ignorant POV so far. I apologize for that.

The internet is a powerful, addictive thing that makes us think we are not harming anyone, but sometimes we are. That being said, I explicitly recognize that I am just this tiny person on the big mess that is the Internet. I am voicing opinions as informed as I can make them and your comments, criticisms and support are awesome and always welcome.

I have been getting plenty of comments both regarding my blog post on marriage and regarding my Facebook profile and regarding my Internet sharing habits and regarding feminism in general. My head is exploding at the moment with many things I want to say but feel too weird about saying because I feel like the more I read, the more I need to read and the more I think I know the more I might need to re-evaluate what I have said and written and thought. Also, because I don’t like sharing an opinion until I’ve read as much as possible on a matter. Clearly, I hadn’t done that, but here goes.

I will tell you, first, why I did not change my profile picture to the HRC “equal” sign.

This sign.

This sign.

When I first thought “no, I don’t want to” it was because people were calling marriage equality the biggest human and civil rights issue of our time. And I shouted out loud: “Really?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW?”

There is human trafficking in practically every single country in the world,

Modern-day slavery in the hands of capitalism is a thing for millions and millions of human beings on the planet (in our backyards, too),

Palestinians are killed, tortured, raped, harassed in their own homes every day,

and I don’t even need to travel far:

Trans* people are forced to be sterilized if they want to be legally recognized,

Women have been murdered systematically and with impunity in Juárez for over 20 years,

Aboriginal peoples everywhere are still being systematically ignored and impoverished and culturally erased,

Women constitute approximately 70% of poor people in the world,

Rape culture IS A F*CKING THING, everywhere in the planet,

(this list goes on f o r e v e r)

and you’re telling me that marriage equality is the biggest human and civil rights issue of our generation?! In all seriousness? I’m not even going to start a conversation with you about this, your barricade of privileged whiteness is way too high even for me.

Now, of course, the fact that it is not the biggest civil rights issue does not mean it is not an issue or an important issue to address. I guess it is just that that common phrase around the days of the Supreme Court ruling were enought o gross me out of the profile-picture business.

Another issue that I have with the marriage equality craze is that it still holds marriage as this ultimate, most legitimate institution that grants legal, social, political and health benefits to those who comply over those whose lifestyle and choice and possibility is not marriage. Now, I still think that the two struggles – the one for same-sex marriage and the one to de-throne marriage as a conservative and oppressive institution – are not mutually exclusive and that society is not equally ready for both. And that peeling the “heterosexist” layer – albeit partially – off the rotten apple that is the institution of marriage is a step towards a healthy apple, somewhere far far away down the line. But the way the marriage equality debate is framed is that marriage is this precious precious thing that we should allow fellow LGB (I am joining in taking out the T and the Q, and I will explain this later) people to have too.

And I repeat, I think LGBTQ* (all people, really) should be able to get married. But it should not be a precious, precious thing. It should not be the only way to access privileged civil rights – hospital visitation rights, survivor benefits and pensions, death-bed decision-making, health insurance transference, etc. It should not be the only way to protect your family or loved ones. It should not be the gold-standard for social legitimacy as far as relationships go. Allowing everyone to get married in order for them to have equal legal rights is reinforcing (even more so) that if you want those rights you should get married. That you’re less worthy if you’re not, and your family is less family if you’re not, that you’re harming your children and your country if you’re not. Don’t know exactly what I am talking about? Single parents, polyamorous partners who have children, partners who choose not to marry, etc. A family, to me, is measured in love and support, not in papers signed or not signed.

There’s much more, though. This is where my ignorance had kicked in.

What I wanted to share with you, because I know some of my readers, and some of these readers I know have the HRC logo on their profiles – not that Facebook is real-life, or has much consequence, but it kind of does – is some of what I did not know and feel sorry I did not know. I will not re-write what the blog post says, though, so here it is.

Why I almost defriended everyone who had an HRC logo as their profile photo this week

Now, I don’t agree with everything the blog post says, but I do agree that supporting their campaign – even if your intention with the profile picture is to support of marriage equality, not their campaign specifically – is supporting them and their donors and their discriminatory pick-and-choosing of groups of people to support and their transphobia and their white privilege-d way of dealing with the money they have and spend. I also agree that supporting marriage-equality without making this about every other group whose needs are not being addressed and whose status as second-class citizens is even more blatantly obvious and offensive too, is putting a band-aid over a very bad bruise that are human rights worldwide, and not addressing structural problems at all. It is, by virtue of ignorance possibly, reinforcing the status quo.

Now, I am not saying you should absolutely not support marriage equality. First of all, this is a free world, and you can stand up for anything and everything that you believe in. You can agree with me on one, or two, or all the claims that I make, or none at all.

I could suggest, if you want to make your support of marriage equality known, for example, that you change your profile picture to something that represents marriage equality (a picture of a wedding between members of the same sex, a sign that says I am all for marriage equality, I don’t know: be creative) but is not the HRC sign. I could also suggest that you talk broadly about LGBTQ* rights as human rights, with a sidenote on marriage, instead of marriage front-and-center. I could suggest to drop the profile picture madness altogether and do actual things in your community to promote equal rights.

I could and absolutely suggest that you do better than me and do as much research as you can before even barely supporting any cause. As much as Facebook is just an informal thing on the Internet where duck faces are a thing, it does slowly but steadily shape public opinion and where conversations are headed; it does tell corporations and politicians what we are into and what we are not into. You may think my blog post is now almost irrelevant, but it is not. Us social-media addicts get caught up in trends and campaign-ish efforts of every shape and size. Let us PLEASE reflect upon them better. [Want to hear a quick coming-out story? I was one of the stupid-ass people sharing Kony 2012 shit like I was going to save the world with it. I clearly did not save the world or change it in any way whatsoever, and I may or may not owe people money for sharing that dumb campaign with them].

So yeah, sharing is caring (always always). But sharing-with-care is what should happen. Let’s make it a thing, yes?