Monday, October 31, 2011

Quoth the homo: Ann Coulter is one fierce betch

The Ann Coulter obsession continues!

The bitchy politifag and the assy medieval herald in me are in the midst of a death-grapple showdown over who will get to shit on Coulter in this particular post.

quoth the homo: that is one fierce betch
I just wanna say that it's touching - it really is - that Coulter continues to soldier on in the face of her impending obsolescence. Her struggle is grim, and bound inevitably with failure, but the bend sinister of her shield is always steadfastly aloft, even into this inauspicious year of 2011: the one in which she has come to defend a presidential candidate from allegations of sexual assault because to accuse any republican of color of this misdeed is to be "racist" in the only way that conservatives can conceive of that descriptor to be.

"capitulation makes me feel so easy breezy beautiful!"
THIS DOES NOT MEAN that Black people and candidates of color are not unfairly scrutinized in the electoral process, nor does it mean that allegations of racism from any accuser ought to be ignored or diminished because of their position on the political spectrum (neither should those who have been sexually assaulted be silenced because of their political beliefs, affiliations, etc).

HOWEVER, notorious racist knave Coulter is no authority on institutionalized racism, sexism, sexual/gendered violence, or, indeed, oppression of any kind, if only because of her remarkable ability to champion it any time someone with a microphone comes within a thirty-foot radius. 

From the Coulter interview:
"And even what the allegations in this – sorry, I was pointing to my iPhone where I just read about it - it's not groping. It’s not touching. It’s not that he demanded sex. It's that he had remarks that they found inappropriate. One is that he had inappropriate gestures that were not overtly sexual. Well what were they then? This isn't dropping your pants and saying, “Kiss it.” This is an outrageous attack on a black conservative who is doing extremely well and I think will be our vice presidential candidate."
It is more than valid to criticize knee-jerk responses to the alleged sexual misconduct (and I don't mean misconduct like fucking around on your wife. I mean misconduct like sexually harassing or assaulting someone) of a Black politician, because here at Fembot we are aware that the racist patriarchy targets people of color, even conservative ones, by playing on stereotypes that portray Black men as more dangerously sexually rapacious than white ones.
But it is not valid - indeed, it is execrable - to do so on the grounds that, since the person in question didn't "drop their pants" and invite the accuser to "kiss it," it does not "count" as harassment; or that it should not be taken into account when we are considering whether or not we want this person in public office. Neither should we ignore the fact that the Republican party and pundits like Coulter are more than comfortable being racist most of the time and only "pull the race card," as they are so fond of mouth-shitting, when it benefits their agenda. Like right now.

As far as the future of Coulter's career as a talking head goes, I will say that it's hard not to pity her. A womyn-identified person, she is semi-effectually functioning as a tool of patriarchy, one that attempts to enforce the oppression of other womyn, people of color, queer people, poor people, immigrants, and (one of her favorite targets), Muslims. She is wealthy and successful and maybe even happy, and all she had to do was sell her soul. The patriarchy is pretty damn good at convincing people to do that, because to an extent, we all do. But I would be hard put to argue that Coulter's contributions, despite her pathetically dwindling (it's Palin-esque, really, except for even Palin has been quiet lately) career, have not been particularly awful.

Like I said, I pity her.

"The relevance of anarcho-syndicalism: Noam Chomsky interviewed by Peter Jay"

"Anarchists of this tradition have always held that democratic control of one's productive life is at the core of any serious human liberation, or, for that matter, of any significant democratic practice. That is, as long as individuals are compelled to rent themselves on the market to those who are willing to hire them, as long as their role in production is simply that of ancillary tools, then there are striking elements of coercion and oppression that make talk of democracy very limited, if even meaningful."

Woe betide the fucker who pisses me off today

Because it's Monday and it was an awful weekend and I'm abusing uppers in an attempt to get everything done that needs to be done because I am surrounded by incompetents.

I have to write a fucking paper like a fucking undergrad and I don't know what I should write it about (wrestling between re-writing a two-year-old paper on gender in The Great Gatsby [hey, grad schools! admit this ten-yr-old and his paper about how much of a misogynist jerk whatshisname Buchanan is!] and trying to come up with something involving queerness/anarchy with Nikki Sullivan, William Godwin, and Aleksandar Hemon GOOD LUCK FEMBOT, YOU ALMIGHTY ASSHOLE), my family is hurting very much, and I need to lose twenty pounds.

At least we have her.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Occupy Sacramento has Progressive Dudes, too!

When I talked about Progressive Dude last week and the threat he poses to the inclusion of marginalized people in movements such as OWS and De-Colonize Davis, I was basing my rant on my personal experience with my local Occupy/De-Colonize coalition. This afternoon, a little bird linked me to this, a missive from Occupy Sacramento that addresses the obstacles feminist occupiers had to face when it became known that a possible rapist was staying at the camp. [Emphasis mine]
"Tonight at the Occupy Sacramento general assembly, five members of the Community and Outreach committee made a block on all announcements and proposals in order to address an issue that (if not resolved appropriately) could potentially cause them to walk away. They alerted their fellow occupiers to recently uncovered information that one of the core organizers of Occupy Sacramento has kept the presence of a rapist quiet because he identified with him, and wanted to protect him. This individual deliberately with-held information that the occupiers of Cesar Chavez park need to know in order to keep themselves aware and safe. He used his role as an authority figure to control the information he received in order to serve his interests. What he should have done was to make us occupiers aware that such an incident occurred. We, the five who did the block tonight, only found out about this information when he whispered it into the ear of one of our members, and then whispered that he had been accused of rape twice, and that he'd kept the information quiet because he was worried about what would happen to the rapist if anyone found out. What about what would happen to the rest of us if you don't tell us there's a rapist in our park?"
Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, for womyn-identified people, the criticisms I had for my local Occupy/De-Colonize coalition are not based on an upsetting but limited phenomenon. Obviously. 

Unfortunately (so much misfortune in this post), womyn-identified people do not have the option to enthusiastically embrace every single, particularly male, person because they claim to be in "solidarity" with us, or are involved in the same movement we are. We do not have that luxury.

We do not because all of us are aware of the fact that we daily face the threat of gender/sex-driven assault by men-identified people. (Obviously, I do not wish to imply that only men commit assault/rape, or that only womyn-identified people are the subjects of it. For the most part, however, I think that we can all agree that our culture, which privileges (white) (hetero) cis-men over everyone else, puts womyn-identified people on the defensive in what is horrifically but accurately described as our rape culture).

Just to head off all those "You hate men" accusations, or even if you are just interested in reading some really awesome feminist stuff, please check out Liss' post on man-"hating" and living as a womyn in a rape culture. It's beautiful, enlightening, fair, and does not concede even an inch of ideological space.  Here's a teaser that is, of course, relevant to the post at hand:
"My mistrust [of men] is not, as one might expect, primarily a result of the violent acts done on my body, nor the vicious humiliations done to my dignity. It is, instead, born of the multitude of mundane betrayals that mark my every relationship with a man—the casual rape joke, the use of a female slur, the careless demonization of the feminine in everyday conversation, the accusations of overreaction, the eyerolling and exasperated sighs in response to polite requests to please not use misogynist epithets in my presence or to please use non-gendered language ("humankind")."
If it's too much to ask that dudes don't throw around language like "bitch" and "pussy" as pejoratives; and if it's too much to ask that political issues pertaining to bodily autonomy (like abortion) are prioritized by all people, and not just those people with uteri; and if it's too much to ask that rape "humor" be considered unacceptable; I guess, why would any dude divulge to you something as minor as the presence of a (possible) rapist in your Occupy/De-Colonize encampment?

If I could somehow view this dispassionately, I would probably find it fascinating how easily "liberal" or "progressive" people - everyone - revert to their same old modes of oppression when confronted with the truth: that there are dudes out there who rape. Sometimes, these dudes are in "solidarity" with you. They vote Green party or for Obama or will march next to you at a protest. This does not mean they are not a rapist, potential or otherwise (nor does it mean that they are). Being a rapist/misogynist/sexist and being politically "progressive" are not mutually exclusive. Believing that is falling into the same sort of fallacious trap as being convinced that, as womyn, if we never dress slutty and never go outside that we are unilaterally protected from sexual assault.

"What was especially disturbing and disgusting to us [Occupy Sacramento protestors] was the fact that several of the core organizers who we thought would get it clearly didn't. The dialogue used to keep our support, and our labor, in line with their agenda was amazingly sexist."
 What the fuck else is new. What the fuck else can be done to encourage the unity and support of the straight cis-dudes who aren't willing to check their privilege and join us? It's important to remember that it is not us, but on them. That doesn't mean we cease trying to educate and communicate with one another, and that doesn't mean that we throw our hands up and stay at home on Reddit (though it's goddamn tempting). But it also doesn't mean that we sacrifice our safety, our sense of well-being, and our [gender neutral term indicating fellowship that is not sister or brother]-hood for their ignorance and apathy.

TL;DR im pissed about the sexism and misogyny running rampant in the Occupy/De-Colonize Movement

Judith Butler on the "body" erotic

A transcript of Judith Butler's speech at OWS a few days ago, as well as a neato new resource for feminist/queer/gender discussions from Bryn Mawr!
"In fact, in Butler’s stirring address to protestors gathered in Washington Square this past Sunday (transcribed below), she explicitly attends to the question of the body—as a political, desiring, interdependent, even vulnerable entity: “It matters that as bodies we arrive together in public. As bodies we suffer, we require food and shelter, and as bodies we require one another in dependency and desire. So this is a politics of the public body, the requirements of the body, its movement and its force.

If the Occupy movement is largely concerned with establishing political visibility by populating public spaces together with our bodies, then what does it mean to explicitly frame the protests, as does “Hot Chicks of OWS,” in terms of a heterosexual scopic economy?"
When the proponents of all of that "Hot Chicks" stuff say it's a good idea to use womyn's bodies as raw meat to draw more "people" to the protest, when they say "people," they mean straight dudes.

The following gave me pause, however, and piqued my interest. As I was telling some people yesterday at the UC Davis Day of Action, I have to admit that my primary reasons for attending my first protests were to meet (attractive) people.
"At the same time, I’m wondering how we might funnel this desire to see and to physically encounter others, this erotic dimension of political action, into alternative forms of social relationality that could potentially counterbalance the atomization and fictional sense of connectivity enabled by social media. As Butler reminds us, “we require one another in dependency and desire,” we are bound by mutual obligation, and in this sense we are all vulnerable and all experience varying degrees of “precarity,” to use one of her preferred terms."
 Funneling "desire" and reminding ourselves that there is an "erotic dimension of political action" has a way of taking the unsexy sting of what we normally consider to be "politics" (which is Hollywood for ugly people, as the old, and soon to be obsolete, saying goes). How to use this information positively, however, without marginalizing womyn-identified people and other minority groups, is gonna be the kicker.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

UC Davis Day of Action went...well...

...Not particularly well. Turn-out was meh, although the people who came were very motivated. I don't know, now I'm all bummed out and sorta sad now. Probably gonna go make a cave in my bedroom and feel bad.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Thoughts on the last twenty-four hours: austerity, drag, and luck

  • I was lucky enough to attend an Occupy Davis teach-in last night that included talks from UC Davis Professors Noha Radwan and Joshua Clover. Although I anticipated it being canceled, or at least very curtailed, because of the attacks on Occupy Oakland yesterday morning, we were lucky enough to be able to have our austerity and dealing-with-cops teach-in as planned. Prof. Radwan spoke briefly but powerfully about her experiences at Tahrir Square in January and February, as well as on the virtues of coalition building in the face of differing revolutionary philosophy and values. Prof. Clover was, as usual, the paramount of passionate yet restrained oratory on the meaning of austerity measures to the "dispossessed." 
  •  I do not know if I should go to a drag event this Friday in lady drag or boi drag. The upside of lady drag is I get to wear a pretty dress and heels and maybe a wig and makeup that someone will have to help me put on. The downside is I might not appear to be in drag since I'm female, and thus won't get the door-discount for those in drag. The upside to boi drag is that I get to wear my fabulous binder and basically the clothes I could normally wear and get to be handsome. The downside is that then it wouldn't necessarily be drag because it's the stuff I usually wear. Confusion.

  • I found a Costco gift card worth fifty bucks in a parking lot. I swear to dog, it's like I'm gifted.

"What if it was your granddaughter?": The way we talk about abortion

"my penis" this and "i'm a man" that
"I am pro-life from conception. Abortions, no exceptions. That has been my official stand from the beginning. What Piers Morgan was trying to do was to pigeonhole me on, “Well, what if this was your granddaughter?” You know what? If it’s my granddaughter? Yes, this is my official position, and it’s always been that. If it’s my granddaughter? I used the word “choice.” And that’s where they jumped all over it. A family will make that choice. I was not talking about the whole big issue."
As if his hypothetical granddaughter's decision to have an abortion would, or should, be within Herman Cain's sphere of influence. As if the "family" and not the individual womyn/uterus-person should have the final say over that individual's own, personal body.

I firmly believe that abortion rights and reproductive choice are among the most important battlegrounds in the war for bodily autonomy. The state continues to reserve the "right" to attack people exercising their right to publicly assemble, protest, and speak. Perhaps if we could make unequivocal the right of be-uterused people to decide what goes in and what comes out of their bodies, the right to not get gassed, beaten, detained, and arrested by cops would not be so easily violated.

one-pelvis pete

Maybe Friction and Falsewood will do a post about classic Ren and Stimpy.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Scattered thoughts while watching Vincent Cassel break my heart in The Apartment

"Queer: A Question of Being or a Question of Doing?" from Nikki Sullivan’s A Critical Intro to Queer Theory

I hadn’t realized how strongly I believed in identity politics, as they’re known, or how much I disagreed with those who challenge this idea, until recently. What with all this Occupy stuff, and my concomitant reading of some intro queer theory, I’ve been given a lot to think about. Is identity politics to blame for the failures of earlier revolutionary movements because of its alleged divisiveness? Is this divisiveness to be blamed on the oppression that breeds it, or the intemperate/incorrect response of the oppressed? If it even exists, is it a necessary evil? Or an apparent evil that is, actually, a step in a larger process toward a more egalitarian society?

My biases are pretty clear, I think, and they’ve been strengthened by my own observations. In my experience, it's the mostly white, cis-, hetero, abled, middle-class dudes who claim that identity politics are a problem rather than the solution to our myriad oppressions. But if poststructuralist theorists are suspicious of identity politics because they consist of what is perceived of as more of the same structuralist binary, what’s a boi to do? How to think? I regret not taking more theory in school. I regret my entire academic career, really, because so little of substance came of it.

Despite the fact that poststructuralist theorists (according to Sullivan) tend to be “critical of grand narratives and the logic that they attempt to (re)produce and/or legitimate on the grounds that they lead to totalising or universalizing discourses and practices that leave no room for difference, for complexities, or for ambiguity” (ahem, 99%), how do we also reconcile the simultaneous poststructuralist suspicion of constructions, such as queerness, that “reinforce, rather than deconstruct, the ways in which identity and difference as constructed in terms of binary oppositions, of us and them – oppositions which are never neutral, but are always hierarchical” (40, 45)?

I'm having a very hard time focusing, so this is as far as I've gotten.  It's shit like this, Vincent [NSFWant]. At one moment I think I'm a chemical neuter, and then the other I'm convinced that I'd fuck the couch if it winked at me. It makes so hard to think.

Still afraid of the bankers

"As virtually everyone in the nation who read that article this morning undoubtedly exclaimed: there's certainly no moral hazard to worry about in "too big to fail," but you wouldn't want to let the plebes get the idea that they don't have to pay through the nose for being on the receiving end of a fraudulent loan. Makes the country weak."

Not even your life

Because to Mitt Romney, and every other white dude trying to maximize his patriarchal power, nothing is more important than his political agenda. Not even your life. That means that a doomed fetus is a death sentence, you uterus people.

It's almost majestic in its complete sociopathy. Considering the amount of white dudes with this attitude, though, referring to their womyn-hatred is more the norm than pathological. Great, I just freaked myself out.  

so i don't have to dream alone

Sunday, October 23, 2011

"Better Call Saul!"

  • Dude Nation makes me sad. It makes me even more sad when Twisty gets real about her personal shit.
  • A charming addendum from xoJane. A choice excerpt: "If you were concerned that people at the Occupy Wall Street protests might accidentally focus more on economic inequality than on whether they’d like to bang you, well, apparently you did not have to worry about that."
  • "At the same time, in economic terms, the United States has gone from being a comparatively egalitarian society to one of the most unequal democracies in the world." lolwut.

The Daily Mail Roundup: Because I refuse to take responsibility for getting my sixteen-year-old son hammered on tequila at my remission party

If you would like some context for the below image...

as well as a laughing fit so severe you may possibly shit yourself, you should check out the newest post on Friction and Falsewood.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Happy Friday!

This gif makes me feel slightly more human. Or slightly less. Whichever feeling is better.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The "Progressive" Dude at OWS and why he must be destroyed

My dear Fembot,

Please be advised not to freak the fuck out and lose your shit with the purest and most fiery of impotent rage when you hear about/experience misogyny committed by "progressive" dudes attending OWS and various Un-Occupy events around the world. I mean, boifriend, you've already broken one ocular blood-vessel this week. If you break the other one, you run the risk of a dude not thinking you're attractive and then revoking your right to attend protests anymore. OH THE HUMANITY.

True story: I ignored the "hot girls @ OWS" "controversy" (as if objectification of cunt people and womyn-identified people is ever defensible) because atm I have bigger fish to deep- fry and threaten my girlish figure with. I figured, Hey, why pay attention to something that doesn't have to do with me personally if doing so is only going to make me commit assault on all of the mansplainers and dude supremacists at my own local Occupy coalition? I have to finish my grad school apps and I'm too pretty for prison (OR AM I? MUST FIND A DUDE TO VALIDATE SEXUAL APPEAL). But then I got myself in trouble reading the internet and thinking thoughts and now here we are.
"Frankly, the kinds of dudes who would come to the OWS protests because they heard there are hot chicks there? Are not the kinds of dudes I want to be protesting with. I would hope they’re not the kinds of dudes that most progressives would want to be protesting with — but judging by the lefty-dude reaction to Steven Greenstreet (hi Matt Zoller Seitz, looking at you!), that’s not the case. It’s disappointing. It’s pretty shitty to know that some progressive men are a-ok with female protestors being portrayed as boner-bait, because boys will be boys and it’s all in good fun. It’s also worth noting here that actual sexual assaults have happened at OWS."
But Jill is aware that whether or not you want them there doesn't matter. Right, Steven Greenstreet?

fuck steven greenstreet
Do me a favor do a little mental headcount. Are the dudes at your local protest willing and happy to listen to non-dude people when they speak? Are they aware of their privilege as cis-men? If they are white, abled, college-educated, and hetero, are they aware of the privileges these characteristics give them, too? Do you happen to know if any of these dudes have raped, sexually assaulted, or otherwise abused womyn, either at protest events or in their personal lives? 

So tell me: how welcoming is it to the marginalized to enter a space of "progressivism" mostly populated by straight white guys who talk over womyn, who laugh at the idea of changing "Occupy" to "De-Colonize," and alienate indigenous protesters (true story), who sexually assault, objectify, talk down to, and ignore womyn (true story), who insist on reaffirming gender-essentialist modes of activism while parceling out jobs to protestors ("a woman [sic] should be our police liaison because vaginas are gentle hurrdurrdurrrr")?

Just how fucking welcome would that make you feel? But you aren't allowed to get upset, because these are progressive dudes who are feminists just like you are! And since they're so feminist - the assumption of feminism is taken for granted at protests and community meetings, as if us ladies have never experienced a liberal guy who thought we owed him sex and then some by virtue of his prick - these guys can totally tell rape jokes as long as they're ironic about it. Because it's okay when liberal guys do it. High-five to Jill from Feministe for addressing that bullshit without a surfeit of foul language and threats of physical violence.

But I'm not Jill and I can't do that. I also can't take my local Occupy movement seriously because of this dude phenomenon. I've attended a few meetings, I've gone to the Occupation site a few times, but that's the extent of my participation. The very welcome networking I've done with straight, white cis-men has been limited and exceptional, in every sense of the word.

Solution time. Maybe I should get involved and change things from the inside. Maybe I should start my own splinter-cell of pissed off womyn-identified people. Those things might work.

Or maybe, just maybe, the next time a dude threatens me or womyn around me with their words, or worse, I'll lose it and bash them right back. Blood vessels be damned.

EDITS: to remove discussion of abuse and sexual assault that were not my experiences to discuss. It is not my place to out anyone, even anonymously, and I was an asshole to do so. Fuck the patriarchy and the rapists it protects, and fuck me for using the experiences of others to denounce something with which I have a personal problem. 

Tunisian womyn preparing themselves for historic vote

Just reading this has made my day. These womyn are up against a lot, but their strength and clarity of focus are inspiring.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Occupy your body

As usually happens, the internet derailed my plans for this post by just existing. I'm so glad it does.

talk about body
I was going to complain about my local Occupy stuff collective when I read over at Radically Queer this piece on body image and self-love. I'd like to know what you think. That statement, by the way, is not rhetorical; I'd really like it if someone commented, messaged, or otherwise made me aware that anyone other than me and my roommates are reading this blerg. Seriously: if let me know what you think of this, I'll give you a cookie or a handy. Your pick

So: dust off your lobes and think this over, esp. you ED survivors.
"While fighting body-negative messages is crucial, it is important to recognize that the goal should be acceptance of others’ bodies, not unqualified love of one’s own.  For many people, including transgender, genderqueer, and intersect people, people with disabilities, people with a history of eating disorders, and those with a history of sexual assault, body love may not be a comfortable or appropriate goal.  It’s important to realize that for some of us, a body is an inconvenience or a hindrance, and that experience is just as valid as body-love."
 I wish it was not necessarily to have a "relationship" with one's body that goes further than nourishing and caring for it as well as you can, but, well.... I've never before heard challenged the idea that this relationship must be as positive as possible. It's something I've taken for granted, ever since I was young and certainly since I entered recovery when I was sixteen. I'll have to stew on Avory's words for one a while, but I would hope that in the meantime, I can get closer and closer to that elusive (perhaps impossible?) goal of total body lovin.'

Among hir tips for body-acceptance is this:
"Be gentle with yourself if you have difficulty with body-love.  Sometimes our bodies are disappointing.  They might not function how we’d like them to.  It might be hard to gain or lose weight.  We might have health problems we can’t control, or a body that doesn’t feel right for our gender.  If nurturing your body isn’t appropriate for you, try nurturing your mind or your spirit.  A lot of body issues are mental health issues, and it can help to have a safe space to talk those out, even if they aren’t “fixable.”"
 It's easy for me to forget that while not everyone has or has had eating disorders or eating issues, pretty much all of us have been disappointed with our bodies at one point or another. If you haven't, please don't tell me, because it's just too depressing knowing that not everyone languishes with me in this self-loathing. [Not really. High-fives and kisses if you love yourself.] But if that paragraph up there was formatted like a checklist, I'd have to mark pretty much every box.  Since admitting way back in my junior year of high school that I have a problem, I've had to learn, not that there is something wrong with my body in a normative sense, but that it's nonetheless not necessarily appropriate for me in this cultural context. What's more, I've learned that this appropriateness cannot be changed by any amount of self-harm, sexy as all that crap sounds. Neither, however, can it be changed by any amount of self-love. Perhaps that's the point Avory is trying to make.

The thing is, self-love, or maybe less self-hate, has dramatically improved my quality of life. It's allowed me to be more active, more aware, more kind, more interested, and more thoughtful; it's improved the quality of my thoughts and behavior. It's made me less afraid to show other people my body, whether it's in a sexual context or by merely wearing shorts in public, which I didn't do for many years, up until last summer. It was an amazing feeling to free myself of that fear.
"Assert your right (and others’) to take up space in a way that works for you.  It’s okay to say that your body fucking sucks.  You have a right to be sad, hurt, or angry.  Anyone who insists that you love your body, get over your issues, or make more of an effort to love yourself is practicing emotional abuse.  You have a right to inhabit physical space as well.  You have a right to accommodations that you need.  You have a right to say no to anything that makes you uncomfortable.  You have a right to tell others not to say things about your body that they think are positive, and not to touch your body.  These are all parts of bodily autonomy."
What impresses me so much about Avory is hir ability to think outside of the box. Taking up space, something which is anathema to people with eating disorders and to womyn, in general, is something that we all deserve without apology, and Avory recognizes this as an extension of bodily autonomy. I must say that until I began thinking of things like being paid fairly and having access to abortions as examples of being in control of your own body, I wasn't particularly interested in them. But that's probably because all I was interested in was my eating disorder, and instead of fighting the institutions that forced it on me, I was fighting myself.  The physical detritus is telling enough (the scars, the illnesses, the complications), but it wasn't until I stopped fighting myself as hard that things became easier and I became happier.

Okay, sorry, I went on and on about myself and not more relevant topics like the Occupy/Decolonize/Un-Occupy movement (s). Sue me. Here's a gif to distract you from my failures.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was SUCH a feminist movie that it required the main actress to be unhealthily underweight

Because a dude-written and -directed movie "empowering" womyn by lingering over graphic rape scenes isn't quite feminist enough.

"Gender isn't a thing that happens to you. It's a thing that is." - s.e. smith

s.e. smith's piece on ou's genderqueerness spoke to me so much that I just had to reblog it from xoJane and then jabber about how it made me feel.

Because it's sort of creepy how much I identify with s.e.'s experiences. Perhaps it's because, from what I've gathered reading ou's blog and the millions of excellent articles ou is somehow are capable of publishing, like, every day, we seem to have similar backgrounds. We're both white and northern California-raised, genderqueers from (and here I am assuming, perhaps projecting) rural-ish, blue-collar/low-income families. I don't know if ou's family was particularly religious or conservative, but if you know anything about Fembot, you'll know mine is.

"Gender isn’t a thing that happens to you. It’s a thing that is." Such an easy, simple thing to express on paper, but it's a concept so challenging that some people never figure it out.
"It started for me in elementary school, when I felt a growing sense of wrongness when I was sent out to play with the rest of the girls. I wanted to be with the boys; I wanted to be a boy, but not exactly. I didn’t feel like a boy any more than I felt like a girl and I covered up my uncertainty and confusion with loud, clashing outfits that went well beyond what was conventional for the 80s. In middle school, when I couldn’t avoid school any more without a raised eyebrow from my father, I’d slink into class in the loosest boy’s clothes I could find. "She used to be so cheerful," people said."
 I've always felt uncomfortable around other girls/womyn, and it wasn't until I went to college, came out, and got my shit together that I actually started making friends with womyn-identified people. Whereas now I count womyn among my closest friends, up until a year or so ago, I surrounded myself with dudes. I didn't feel right being "feminine" or "girly," at least, not in the ways that other girls did. I couldn't do girly like they did, and my own version of what I felt to be femininity (growing out my pit hair, for example, feels very feminine to me) didn't match theirs.

Like smith, I wanted to be a boy, but not exactly. I think it's important to point out that I internalized a lot of sexism and misogyny from a young age, as I imagine most/all people raised as girls and womyn do, and that this confused me even more. It still does confuse me, I guess. Where do I draw the line between my own genderqueerness and societally-driven female self-loathing? I remember very distinctly hating the idea of having a "female" body far before puberty, when males and females begin taking on their secondary sex characteristics and becoming actually distinguishable from one another; from this, I can assume that I believed, at the age of seven, that my assigned gender reflected something inherent and essential within me, and that this inherent and essential thing was inferior, bad, and weak. It seemed like a great injustice to have my own moral failings projected onto the body I lived in, when other boys I knew could be as bad as they wanted and live in the body that I coveted like crazy.

Of course, it didn't mean that I didn't want all of those signifiers of womynhood that other girls my age started to get in late elementary school. But it wasn't the breasts that I wanted, but the sports bra that strapped them down. It wasn't that I wanted to bleed every month, I just wanted to be able to keep up with the other girls as they began to bleed, too. But wearing girl clothes felt uncomfortable - it felt like unwilling drag - so doing all of the things I was supposed to be doing, like wearing make up and halter tops and whatever - were doubly difficult. It didn't help that I came from the sort of family that wanted me to be supremely feminine without crossing the line into (an entirely fluid and subjective definition of) harlotry. Do you know how hard that is to do?

And oh, man, did this ever hit home:
"I still remember the eighth grade grad dance, when I gussied up in a minidress with sparkles and had my hair done and had this strange sense of glittering artificiality. Everyone’s looking at me like a girl, I thought, so I must be doing something right. But I didn’t feel right, not exactly, not with the way people looked at me in that dress, and over the summer, my body betrayed me."
THIS. Except in my case, having gone all out in sparkles and makeup and all that crap for my first seventh-grade mixer, I went home and cried because it just didn't work. I had tried so hard to do the right kind of feminine and it had just looked wrong on me (probably didn't help that I was a sheltered, dorky kid from the kind of family mentioned above). Anxious for the entirety of the dance, and ignored by boys and girls alike (at this point in my life, by the way, my attraction to girls was not sexual, as I told myself, but rather observational. I just liked looking at them and thinking about their naked bodies, was all. It was a writerly instinct, was all), I can report to you, with confidence, that I am really just not meant to go anywhere with long hair, heels, a dress, femme makeup, and a bra and expect to be comfortable. Glitter, of course, was just collateral damage. Glitter is awesome.
"My lean, hard, angular body turned soft and squishy. It bled and seeped and sighed. My hips splayed out and my chest exploded and I hated it."
It's redundant to say puberty was my nemesis, because it was everyone's nemesis. The way it targeted me in particular, though, was much like how it targeted smith: I stopped looking like a boy and started developing into a lady. When I was a pre-teen, I could pass as a boy with short hair and I fucking loved it. Once I was a teenager, this was no longer an option. I associated this physical femininity with weakness and failure, and thus began my long-term relationship with that cruel mistress, disordered eating [this has given the author funny images in her head of a disembodied stomach in a slutty dress and diamonds. as you were].
"I didn’t know what I was because I didn’t have a word for it. There were girls and boys and men and women and I wasn’t any of those things, even though sometimes I liked being a boy, having people think I was a boy. I couldn’t imagine being a man. I definitely did not like being a girl, I can tell you that."
Unlike smith, learning about genderqueerness as a concept wasn't an Aha! moment for me. It took a long time to get used to the idea that a heteronormative gender-binary is exclusionary and reductive fiddle-faddle, and that the right to ownership of my own personal body includes defining the terms by which my gender identity will be expressed. I'm still working on it, in fact. Here's to brilliant genderqueers like smith helping the rest of us to find pride in and articulate our own, individual gender expressions.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Salvaged from NOLA: some stuff that I wrote about that infamous road trip

This trip was, among other things, supposed to inspire me to write more and better with more breadth and depth and understanding of Americana, people, and the world. Big words, big meanings, big, spacious concepts. I don't know how close I got to meeting that goal.

One long night straight through the state of Arizona. We came within a few miles of Tombstone.

New Mexico was pueblos, fireworks, McDonald's, rusted out Model T's.
Big, spacious darkness is much more impressive than dense darkness. The desert under a three-quarter moon is familiar enough but distant landscaped. Sublunary but Martian. Ravel and David Byrne moan below my McFlurry.

Methane about a slaughterhouse while listening to an outdated indie track. Coachella was all gas stations, and this feels similar. Some cows perch on bent forelimbs and puddle over themselves.

Tract homes off the beaten track.

The only ones making better time than us are the truckers, and all our drugs are legal.

The first advertisement for Cracker Barrel, only slightly before Texas. The Lone Star State: land of waterparks and metaphorical phalluses(i?) of all sorts.

In Texas, golf course or farmland. Can't tell the difference.

The fucking time change, man. Losing three hours. It never even occurred to me, and I daily communicate with co-workers on the east coast. I've done so much to maintain the separation between mywork and my private life that all common sense has gone out the window.

In love. My anxieties remind me I don't want to drive, but the cost of these reminders are the terrors of truly living. Terrifying, terrific.

Whataburgers are real, for dog's sake. I still can't believe they exist outside of O.N.A.N.

I've always been irritated by non-Catholic Christianity's penchant for nearly nondescript nouns as church names. As if non-denominational, post-Lutheran, evangelist, red state houses of worship don't have a hard enough time distinguishing themselves from one another. Or maybe that's the point: vague utility for reasons of PR, to insist upon ecumenical brotherhood with Christ-worshipping sects everywhere, fierce separatism when one of your churchly brothers goes Westboro on you.

One of the strangenessess of New Orleans is that it is actually a small city. This is from the perspective of a tourist, of course, but that's the impression I got. It is uncommon, for example, to walk to the Garden District from the French Quarter and see another living soul. Besides tourist hot spots, smelling of urine and pungent food and daquiri drip, and the clubs where the locals party - red or blue-cast, like a painter's temperaments, full of Black and some white people rubbing pelvises or hooting appreciatively for live bands playing their happy melancholy and sweet hot stomp - the streets are empty. Perhaps the people who live there stay inside as much as possible with their HVACs cranked as cold as they go, while tourists like us plod the cobblestones in the humidity.

A Cajun man (I assumed from his accent) feigned offense that I ordered chicken nuggets at his "Boudin and Cracklins" greasy spoon. But the nuggets were cheap and I didn't feel like challenging myself with the cost and caloric value of anything larger and more complicated.

I bet you're not the only one feeling down today,

which is why you should sit down and enjoy some of the funny, thoughtful posts from Friction and Falsewood [full disclosure: the artist and myself share the same mother. We also have the same lil dimples on our lower back, so we can pretty much be certain we're related].

if this doesn't lift your spirits, you pretty are beyond saving, anyway.

Mental health parity for ED survivors is long, long overdue

It is not a coincidence that womyn-identified people and queer and genderqueer people have a higher incidence of eating disorders. Neither is it a coincidence that eating disorders in particular among mental illnesses are not taken as seriously as they should be.

"An estimated 11 million Americans, mostly young women, suffer from eating disorders, the most serious being anorexia nervosa, in which people starve themselves, and bulimia nervosa, in which they engage in binge eating followed by purging. These disorders, particularly anorexia, have the highest fatality rate of any psychiatric disorder."
Because if boys and men were disproportionately affected by a deadly illness (encouraged, of course, by the culture at large) it would be a bigger deal. If it was happening to more straight and cis- people, it would be a bigger deal.

But the truth is, it's just less expensive to ignore the needs of a group of sick people, the majority of whom are womyn, and it's not as if insurance companies and their lobbyists are being held accountable by anyone other than the poorly-funded, if committed, ED advocacy groups. Who do you think has more money to throw at bullshitting strategies? Not that you need to hire someone with a law degree to come up with casuistry of this caliber:
"Some insurers say that there is no treatment for physical illnesses that is equivalent to residential treatment for mental illnesses, and therefore residential treatment does not have to be paid for under parity laws.
Ms. Harlick’s lawyer, Lisa S. Kantor, argued that residential treatment centers were equivalent to skilled nursing facilities, which Blue Shield did cover."
Great argument! Semantics! Because illness only happens to the body, not the mind!

Because the body and mind aren't connected to one another AT ALL!

Because even if a need is not being met, we should just stick with not meeting it because that's what we've ALWAYS done!

What do you do when you have the blues? You work.

So I'm linking you to this handy-dandy checklist of neurotypical privilege (brought to you by Aspergersquare8), and it's just as much for me as it is for you. I have often struggled in differentiating the types of oppression experienced by people who are not "neurotypical" (the definition of, and problems with, this term is addressed in the above link) with those who are intellectually disabled/differently abled.

Often, these two lived experiences are conflated or confused for one another, which does a helluva disservice to these disparate (though sometimes overlapping) groups.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

You: a walking incubator, a cunt on legs

You know what this reminds me of?

It's not that there are many significant points of connection between forcing a violent rapist to watch footage of violent rape while injecting him with sickening drugs in order to force him to associate violence of any kind with physical illness and forcing a pregnant person to see the ultrasound and hear the heartbeat of the fetus they have already indicated they would like to abort from their personal body for personal reasons.

It's more like: the anti-choice people want to exert a sort of terroristic power over pregnant people and womyn. That is, they want to create laws coercing you into positive behaviors in which you would not otherwise have been engaged. Look at this reality, they say, as if you, a walking incubator, a cunt on legs, a person only insofar as your vote, by some strange legal technicality, counts for something, were not already aware of what abortion means and entails.

But they already know that you know, so everything I just said was just so much masturbation. The point of this coercion is not to help you make better, more informed decisions as a be-uterined individual. The point of this coercion is to remind you of who you are, what your place is, and just how easy it is for them to control you.

This shit seriously makes me want to get pregnant intentionally, abort the thing, light the corporeal detritus on fire, and throw it through Boehner's/Bachmann's/Rand's/Cain's/take your pick's window.

O RLY?: the decriminalization of assault on womyn-identified people in Kansas

Today is just one of those days that mean awful policy decisions for womyn were made by the dudes in charge. Why is any of this acceptable?

From the NYT, via Feministing:
"By a vote of 7 to 3, the City Council repealed the local law that makes domestic violence a crime."
Don't worry, this was a calculated political move to make a "grudging" DA, Chad Taylor, " prosecute the cases because they would remain a crime under state law."

"But since the entire point of repealing the law was to force Taylor to start prosecuting the cases again, at this point, I just sure as hell hope that actually happens–and fast. The Associated Press reports that Taylor’s spokesperson said he “would re-evaluate his position,” but that the repeal doesn’t end the
negotiations between city and county officials–”it just means there is a new dynamic in play.”"
And according to Wikipedia's page on domestic violence:
"The United States has a lengthy history of legal precedent condemning spousal abuse"

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

S.E. Smith is brave as hell - but to be a womyn on the internet, you kind of have to be

"But I’m still not going to shut up, and not just because I am bullheaded and don’t take kindly to being told to be silent or die. I don’t shut up for all the people who were forced to shut up, for the ghosts who drift through the Internet, for the people too terrified to leave their homes at all, let alone try to coordinate safety concerns to attend events, for the people who ask friends to open and sort their email because they can’t handle the daily vitriol. I don’t shut up for all the people who have been silenced, who did throw in the towel because they just couldn’t take it anymore. Not because they were weak or not committed to the cause, but because they, and their families, were in danger."
Being a womyn or womyn-identified or female person at all, you are familiar to some degree with violence, or threats of it, that are gender or sex-based. I've yet to meet a womyn or trans* guy or female queer who has not been cat-called, groped/sexually assaulted, or discriminated against based on hir gender or sex identity. And just because the internet isn't "IRL" obviously doesn't mean that kind of shit doesn't happen here, either.

The kind of misogyny and rape apologia you find online is something I had mostly become inured to until my feminist birth via Slut Machine, Jezebel, and Feministing of a few years ago. It made me change how I went about the internet almost entirely; it certainly turned me off to a lot of forums and sites that are dude-oriented and dude-populated, and which are, by definition, very lady-hostile places to be.

As a person working in an industry that is just beginning use the internet for surveillance purposes, I now understand just how easy it is to get someone's vital info. You don't have to be a cop (not that cops, of all people, should be privy to this information, but according to the current cultural narrative, you would probably expect them to whether or not they have a search warrant) to find out someone's SSN, address, past addresses, relatives and affiliates, financial and criminal history, vehicle records, etc. It's easy. Even going about it legally through services that compile this stuff for you, it's generally not super expensive to get someone's background information sent to you in a nice .pdf.

generic arts solutions
I regularly worry, with the (slow) growth of this blog, about what it will mean for me to have all this personal information, much of it regarding my health, my sexual "deviancy," my activities, and my relationships, just out there. Regardless of why I put it on my blog in the first place - because of my own nearsighted foolishness or as conscious decisions to "out" myself in solidarity with other womyn/queers/mentally ill people/ED survivors - it's out there, and as the old saying goes, nothing on the internet ever goes away. It can be used against me by employers, insurance companies, and family members, as well as trolls and enemies of our movement seeking to intimidate me, or worse, with emailed threats and comments calling me names.

Although Smith is much more high-profile than I am as an individual and in conjunction with Tiger Beatdown, I'm surprised that, thus far, internet backlash to Fembot has been minimal. People rarely comment on this here blog, which could be part of it, but the comments I have gotten that aren't spam are usually deleted because the person's comment was not worth the finger energy it took to type or the poster, though well-meaning, clearly needed to be referred to Feminism 101. In fact, I think I got more threatening emails as a college newspaper columnist than with this much more personal and, I think, "radical" blog.

As long as I'm a little fish, I don't have more to worry about than the average female-bodied or womyn-identified person. The problem is, the average female-bodied or womyn-identified person has a lot to worry about in terms of bodily autonomy and personal safety.  Dare to say something about it, and publicly, no less? You are in even more danger, and may be forced to take the kinds of precautions that famous lady bloggers (Smith, Kathy Sierra, et al) take every day. I don't flatter myself that what I'm doing is particularly important or different enough to attract particular negative attention, but I also know that all they need is an excuse.

generic arts solutions
 Smith ended her piece with her solution to internet intimidation: speaking truth to power.
"This is a reality, and it doesn’t go away if we don’t talk about it."
But then again, if ever institutionalized misogyny "goes away," what will we need feminist blogs for?

FTP: Jerry Brown vetoes bill protecting smartphones from unwarranted search and seizure

Remember what I said yesterday about Jerry Brown doing a good job? Well, not so much.

Also, from the link:
"Several police unions who opposed the bill have donated a total of over $160,000 to Brown’s campaign."
Fuck the police. 

Happy Coming Out Day!

Happy Coming Out Day! I'm Fembot, and I'm a genderfuck bi kinky (sublyfe!) femmeboi homosass who likes the pole AND the hole. I'm sometimes monogamous and sometimes not. I'm sometimes single and sometimes not. I'm sometimes bound and sometimes not. I'm sometimes the prettiest boi in a dress, but I'm always handsome. Love yourself and your queerness, even if you can't come out!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Schmangxiety: The ballad of the homely masturbator

A dear friend of mine turns to the solitary pleasures when she's trying to avoid getting actual work done. She calls this "procrasturbating," and it's something that I also enjoy, from time to time.

Unfortunately for me, when I'm anxious about Serious Stuff, like applying to grad school, and I'm at work when this anxiety strikes, I can't exactly jill off right there at my cubicle. Mostly because that doesn't ring my bell, but also because it probably would mean breaking a few health codes.

I tried to ignore the horniness, I really did, but the new edition of Stud Magazine came out today and then there's that Feminist Ryan Gosling Tumblr, so I need to channel this pesky sexual tension into something productive.

"Productive," I will remind you, is a subjective term.

t.a. the only man for me
jd samson. the other only man for me. also, she humped the air about two feet over my head. no lie.

there is something to be said for nerdy white guys. so, so much to be said.
and speaking of white boys... [there is a breaking bad sex joke in here somewhere]
just re-watched y tu mama this weekend

The Links: Who am I be (who am I be)?

Guest post: Alison Stevenson takes over Fembot with "Big Girl"

Finally, someone took up our generous offer to write for us! You should read and click and maybe go to one of Alison Stevenson's stand up performances.

Big Girl

            Being an overweight girl is hard. For me I find it most challenging because I don't mind having the extra pudge. No, really, it's not that big of a deal to me. I'd like to think that I’ve learned to dress myself appropriately, and still manage to find clothes that make me feel comfortable, sexy, cute, or what have you. I'm an outgoing gal who still considers myself beautiful regardless of the gut. Is that so wrong? I don't think so, but there is one person in my life that is very adamant about changing my perspective on me. Her name is Mom.
            My mom is a fucking bitch. I mean don't get me wrong - I love the bitch, but when it comes to matters of my weight I just can't stand her. She does that sneaky phrasing where she'll compliment me and insult me at the same time. It's a very mom thing to do. It goes something like this:
            “Alison, you have such a pretty face. Really, you do.”
            “Oh thanks mom!”
            “Now if only you'd lose twenty-five pounds then you'd be beautiful!”
            What the? Are you for real? It's moments like these that make me wish I could morph into an angry cartoon character, have steam come out my ears, bounce all over the walls, yell profanities, self-combust, then quickly regain composure and walk away like nothing happened. But no, instead I just bounce all over the walls and scream profanities.
            In all honesty though, it's hard to explain to my mom that the things she says are more damaging than helpful. I get where she's coming from but the woman just can not comprehend that I already feel attractive. Real talk, regardless of my weight I'm a cocky motherfucker. Seriously, I got the self-confidence of Charlie Sheen and don't need the cocaine addiction to prove it. Instead of obsessing over my negatives I think about my positives and find that bringing those things out make me an overall more attractive person. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't always like this. A lot of my college years were spent obsessing over how other people might see me. I would get extremely self-conscious and worry if people were noticing my “bigness”. When men approached me I would assume it was because they had no one else to talk to, or they were trying to go through me to get to my “hotter” friend. Now I look back to all these instances and realize I was being one lame ass bitch. I was quick to dismiss potential suitors, or let's face it it was college so more like potential hook up buddies, and it was all my fault. Purely because I was self-degrading.
            I guess that saying is true. You know, the one about us being hardest on ourselves. I was such a bitch to me back then. I wish the now me could go back in time and give college me a fucking wake up call. Just be like, “Alison, stop obsessing over this shit! You're fine!” It would also be cool to go back so I could warn college me that watching A Bugs Life does not count as studying for that entomology final I am going to fail. 
            How did I come to realize this on my own? I really don't know. I guess it's sort of linked to dating. I've moved to a bigger city where I meet more people who tell me they don't mind a girl that's bigger than average and I have finally come around to believing them. I guess growing older has done that whole “maturity” thing where it's much more obvious that there are those who do care  about personality and it's really not some hokey bullshit Lifetime movies try to sell you. I've come to learn to ignore the “mom” comments, and if crap like this happens to you then I recommend you do the same.If your weight is damaging to your health that's one thing, but if you're like me and are an overall pretty healthy person then don't stress about it.  When it comes down to it, I'd rather just stay like this. I prefer to spend my free time reading new comic books rather than pumping iron at the gym. Is that so bad?
             Society, especially the media, has done a good job of defining beautiful as something only thin girls can be. Our job as bigger girls is not to try our best to conform to this, but rather to gracefully wave our middle fingers at those media fucks, and work to broaden the spectrum on our own. Society as a whole has turned “thin” and “fat” into enemies. Two rival gangs that can never get along. It's all very West Side Story, but with less singing (except for when I sing “I feel pretty” to myself in the shower). If you're truly satisfied, then stay the way you are and don't let outside pressures tell you you're wrong. Easier said than done I know, but instilling this mentality is a good first step in confronting those people who just don't see it yet.
Believe me, I am the last girl you'll find at a support group. I tend to despise those people who encourage all of us to hold hands, want to sing kumbaya, then talk about their feelings expecting your shoulder to be available for crying on. However, I see how their position is sometimes necessary. As corny as it may sound, and as tired as the phrase may be, big really is beautiful and I guess it's one of those things that keeps having to be said until society starts genuinely accepting it. 
Alison Stevenson lives in Oakland, CA, where she is pursuing stand up comedy around the Bay Area, and writing. She does not have a website yet, but recommends that anyone who wants to speak with her, or attend one of her comedy events, to add her on Facebook