Monday, April 30, 2007

Once again, America ignores the rest of the world…
Did you know that war may be on the horizon between Estonia and Russia? I didn’t for a few days, until a friend on LJ who actually lives in Estonia told me. As soon as she told me I started looking at the US media, and…nothing.
Then I checked The Guardian, and it was right there front and center. That’ll teach me to rely on the US media.
So, in case anyone else missed it, check out the following links from The Guardian. Short summary…the Estonian government took down a monument commemorating the Russian soldiers who drove the Nazis out of Estonia (they didn’t destroy it completely, they moved it to a new location). Estonia’s Russian population is pissed off. Ethnic Estonians considered the monument to be a national insult “celebrating” the fact that they were “liberated” from the Nazis only to be colonized by Russia – from their perspective they simply swapped one set of oppressors for another. The Russian government is throwing a tantrum and demanding that Estonia be “punished”. Given Russia’s previous behavior in the Baltic, this is more than a little ominous. According to my friend what’s actually happening on the ground is much worse than the media is making it out to be, and this confrontation has been brewing for a long time.,,2067022,00.html,,2067391,00.html,,2068215,00.html,,2069211,00.html
I’ve been sort of taking over the conversation at Verte’s place since Trin threw us a particularly juicy bone by directing us to the Egalitarian Sex page on LJ (, and I want to talk about it some more, so I thought I’d bring my random babbling back over here instead.
So, egalitarian sex. I’ve heard the term thrown around for years, and never quite known what people meant by it. No one has even been willing or able to give me a definition. What does it mean to have sex in an egalitarian way, exactly? What would that look like?
Apparently it looks like poorly written male/male slash involving defenceless British rock stars who have not given their consent to being thus depicted, one of whom may or may not be dead. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
From the community info page, here are the rules for writing about/discussing egalitarian sex.

All sex partners fantasized about treat each other as equals and feel equal respect for each other.
No sex partners fantasized about behave any differently on the basis of what gender they are or treat other people any differently on the basis of what gender other people are.
All body types are celebrated, and no sex partners fantasized about ever feel distaste for any body type (including body types their partners do not possess - for example, the fact that your partner is beautiful fat does not make it egalitarian to find skinny people unattractive; it is only egalitarian to find all body types attractive).
No sex partners fantasized about define themselves as definitely going to remain exclusively heterosexual for life, because this implies treating people differently on the basis of gender or body type.
If the sex partners fantasized about define themselves as definitely going to remain exclusively homosexual for life, they choose to do so due to living in a society that would give partners in other-gender relationships unequal power toward one another, rather than due to any belief that members of the other gender are physically unattractive or biologically incapable of behaving in all the same ways that members of their own gender can.
All sex partners give their full and uncoerced consent, including financially uncoerced consent, to everything that happens.
No sex partners fantasized about pretend at any point not to be consenting, and none are tied up, voluntarily or otherwise (pretending not to consent is a turn-off, not a turn-on, to people who are turned on by egalitarianism).
No sex partners fantasized about are turned on by inflicting physical or emotional pain on each other or being subjected to physical or emotional pain by each other, consensually or otherwise

Now, in principle I can agree that a little more egalitariasm in relationships would be an excellent thing. What we have right now is a system in which everyone hetero is basically practicing a really fucked-up form of BSDM, but it’s not any fun because no one discusses anything, there are no safe words and women are ALWAYS supposed to be on the bottom. Well, not everyone, but you know what I mean. That’s the standard hetero script, right? I’m not thrilled with that script. It could do with some adjustment.

However…this is not the way to go about changing things. This script has a few problems, too.

Rule number one I’m fine with. Even the most extreme BSDM people do that – yes, you in the peanut gallery, they do. I know you don’t believe me but tough shit, cupcake, I know more about this than you do.

The second rule on the other hand…OK, we have a problem here. You see, the basic anatomy of men and women is different. It is not possible to have sex with men and women in EXACTLY the same way because the bodies involved are not made the same way. I know this is inconvenient in that it fucks up the theory, but there it is.

See, I’m bi. I’ve had sex with both men and women. I fantasize about both men and women, and I’ve gotta tell you, what I fantasize about does in fact vary based on what possibilities are available in a particular situation given the anatomy involved. I’m trying not to be too graphic here, but I’m sure people can see what I’m getting at, yes?

Rule number three…OK, now you’ve really jumped the shark.

I do not know anyone who is equally attracted to all body types. Literally, not a single person. Everyone has a type. Which type one prefers is widely variable, but everyone has some physical characteristics that push their buttons and others that do not.

Which brings us to…nobody should feel distaste towards any body type.

You know, whatever drugs you people are taking you really should offer to share them with the rest of the group. Sharing is caring, after all, and it would take a LOT of drugs to make me buy that particular argument.

Again…everyone has preferences. Likes and dislikes. This not only means that everyone has some characteristics that they really love, it also means that everyone had some physical characteristics that they find distasteful in others. Again, these vary, but everyone has them. One can attempt to pretend that one does not have them, but that will not make them go away. People are not robots, they cannot simply be reprogrammed at will. The psychology of how people come to favor the physical traits they do is pretty complicated, but everyone who has studied it is agreed that these things are fairly deep-seated and pervasive. By the time one is an adult, one has preferences, and one cannot simply reset them at will.

Why is it such a terrible thing for people to have preferences, anyway? How is the world as a whole harmed because, say, I have a preference for men who are tall and thin? Or because I find heavily muscular men unappealing? There are after all plenty of other people who do find muscular men appealing. It’s not as if my finding them distasteful means that no muscular man will ever find love again.

So, sorry, but this phrase - “it is only egalitarian to find all body types attractive” – is both unrealistic and frankly rather creepy. What if hypothetical person A is really, genuinely not attracted to skinny men? Should she/her force him/herself to date them because not to do so would be inegalitarian? Should she/he attempt to alter the content of his/her fantasies? Scold her/himself if he/she has an inappropriate thought?

In what way is this helpful to anyone? How does it improve anyone’s sex life? Make them a happier person? Add to the sum total of human happiness in general?

And that fourth one…now, I’m bi, and I’m inclined to believe that EVERYONE has someone out there for whom they would switch teams. I’ve seen it happen. I have a gay friend who makes passes at me when he’s drunk, even though he’s never slept with a woman. He says that me and Catherine Zeta Jones are the only women’s he’s ever gotten hot and bothered over. People are weird. However…for the most part people are pretty fixed in their orientation. To go around demanding that people not identify as exclusively hetero seems a bit…well, unreasonable. Especially when we consider the fact that no comparable demand is being made of gay people. What about them? It’s inegalitarian to only be attracted to the opposite sex because it implies that one is treating people differently based on gender, but it’s OK to only be attracted to one’s own sex even though that also implies that one is treating people differently based on gender? How does that work, exactly? How is that egalitarian?

Except there’s the next rule.
“If the sex partners fantasized about define themselves as definitely going to remain exclusively homosexual for life, they choose to do so due to living in a society that would give partners in other-gender relationships unequal power toward one another, rather than due to any belief that members of the other gender are physically unattractive or biologically incapable of behaving in all the same ways that members of their own gender can.”
How very convenient. Sorry, not buying it. Justify it however you want, you’re still creating a situation in which following the rules is going to be a lot easier for some people than for others.

Next rule... All sex partners give their full and uncoerced consent, including financially uncoerced consent, to everything that happens.

I’m actually fine with this one. Yep, eeevil BSDM me. Funny how that works.

The last two…well, OK, so obviously I don’t think those should or do apply to everyone. If people want to organize their sex lives that way I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t, though. As long as it’s understood that not everyone chooses to live by those rules.

If it’s being implied that those of us who DON’T choose to live by those rules are bad wrong, wicked etc rather than just “not egalitarian” then I have a problem with that. But as long as it’s just a prescription for how a certain group of people choose to live and not a judgement, then it’s none of my business. I wonder if they would extend the same courtesy to me?

Now, about those stories…about the only thing posted recently on that page is some m/m slash featuring the (dead) guitarist of the Manic Street Preachers, Richey, and their bassist, Nicky. I have no moral or ethical objections to RPS, but I do find the idea of writing slash about a guy who as far as we all know committed suicide a bit creepy, especially when he’s partnered with someone who probably wouldn’t be very happy to see stories about him shagging his dead friend.

That’s not the real problem I have with those stories, though. The real problem I have is that they’re not very egalitarian at all.

What those stories are all about is eroticizing innocence and lack of sexual experience. Note that the two characters are not equally innocent (I hate that word in this context, but it’s the word the author used so I’m sticking with it). There is a noticeable disparity in experience, and one characters (Nicky, described here as Nickly – blech!) is getting a thrill out of the other’s lack of experience (Richey, described here with loathsome, tooth-rotting levels of cutesiness as “Teddy”).

The eroticization of innocence/lack of sexual experience is all about power dynamics. Hell, it’s the oldest trick in the book, probably the one thing that has been and continues to be most used against women in our current system. How is that egalitarian, exactly? Does it suddenly become OK because they’re both (poorly written, painfully out of character) men?

Or is it OK because there’s no penetration, no one is in a position that LOOKS like they’re in control (note the “looks like” – in fact the one with more experience is clearly in control)? So basically egalitarian sex is people who behave as if they’re really young and unsure of themselves doing frottage?

This isn’t egalitarian, it’s just infantile. It’s defining egalitarianism as childhood, as about never really claiming any sort of control over one’s sexuality at all. And that’s just creepy.

Thoughts? I actually think that more egalitarianism isn’t a bad goal to strive for for most people, but there has to be a better way to do it than this.

Friday, April 27, 2007

In reference to the current inter-feminist dust-up

I REALLY don’t want to get involved in all this. I’ve read the thread over at WitchyWoo’s place, and to be perfectly honest I think StormCloud is being a gigantic asshole, and I’m not at all sure why more of her cohorts don’t see that.
HOWEVER several women who participate in the GenderBerg forums have expressed concerns that, since clearly there has been a leak, some of their personal information might be out there floating around on the Net. That, I think, is an entirely valid concern. I’m not very familiar with GenderBerg, have only visited a couple of times, but I do know that many women who are survivors of abuse and forced prostitution hang out there. Some of these women may well have shared information which could be used to identify them there, feeling able to do so because they thought that that information would never be made public outside the inner circle. That makes a lot of sense. Given that there has clearly been a breach in security and someone has shared info from the private part of the site, I can see why people would be feeling nervous. Some of these women may simply not want their privacy invaded, others may fear actual retaliation from former partners etc. I can certainly sympathize with that. That’s a very valid concern.
Since I was one of those who re-published the excerpt that Ren Ev published on her blog I wanted to do what I can to address those concerns. So, in the hopes that it may help put some of those people’s minds at rest...
As far as I am aware no personal information has been revealed. Nothing that could be used to identify any one seems to be out there. If it is out there I haven’t seen it, although I don’t think anyone really knows what the person who revealed that part I published intends to do next. I haven’t seen any private information making the rounds. It’s possible that I’m just out of the loop, but I don’t think so. As far as I know, everyone’s personal information is safe.
If such information was to come my way I would not publish it, nor would I pass it on to anyone else. Not ever, not under any circumstances. I think outing is wrong, period, and I think that sharing information which could threaten someone’s safety is REALLY wrong. There are a lot of crazy people out there, and many of them do not like feminists very much. So, if anyone who is a GenderBerg member and who is worried about their personal info being out there is reading this, I just wanted to make that clear. Just because I published that one excerpt does not mean that I will be sharing anyone’s personal information. In fact, if that excerpt contained any personally identifying info I would never have published it in the first place. Critiquing someone’s viewpoint is one thing, threatening their privacy or their safety is another thing entirely.

As to the more general idea of separate rooms…honestly, I think it’s a lousy idea. I’m not going to stop writing about radical feminism. I’m not about to consider any political movement off limits. I will of course not comment on anyone’s blog if they ask me not to, but avoiding the entire issue? Nope, not doing that.
Sigh. I’ve been trying so hard not to pick fights with the anti-porn, anti-BSDM crowd. I’m pretty sure that nothing positive ever comes of it, so why waste the energy? But then they come out with shit like this…

And unfortunately Graham, as I am a woman with a healthy sense of self esteem, and who knows her own mind, (has anybody ever told you you're incredibly patronizing? - if not let me be the first) I will have to decline your kind invitation to a fetish club, not least because my rubber suit's in the wash. And because you don't really seem like a laugh a minute guy if I'm totally honest. You see I know what I will find there and it will not be people caressing each other with silk scarves or eating strawberries. It will be people humiliating & degrading each other, it will be people physically injuring each other, because they get a sexual thrill out of it. It will be people calling women 'slut' and 'bitch' and much much worse than that. It will also be people role playing rape and child abuse because that goes on too. But you don't like to mention that because you know it's not good marketing. It may even be people strangling and killing each other, which you also seem to think is perfectly acceptable - hey it's just an accident after all! Here for instance is a quote from a BDSM lesbian I found on a dating website.'I want you in the gutter face down, that bitch deserves every busted rib and bruise she got'. This is accompanied by a picture of this woman's partner with a flayed back. There is no mention of silk scarves or strawberries. Charming!


The highlighted part is the important bit, the rest is just for context.

Now, where in the name of all that is good is this person getting her information about BSDM from? Is she really under the impression that murder is a common occurrence at your average BSDM club? That BSDM people kill each other on a regular basis, for shit and giggles? That every club has a fleet of ambulances sitting outside just waiting for the inevitable casualties to emerge? Does she think it’s like a Cecil B De Mille movie in there? Perhaps she saw Hellraiser and thought it was a documentary? That must be it…people who do BSDM are actually Cenobites!
(Note – I do not wish to be a Cenobite, especially if I have to be in one of the crappy sequels, but I wouldn’t mind borrowing their outfits every once in a while)
And if we’re supposedly killing each other off on a regular basis, why do our numbers not seem to be diminishing? One would think that there wouldn’t be too many of us left at this point, what with the constant murder and all. We ought to be an endangered species at this point.
Now here’s the thing. I’m very much at the lighter end of the BSDM spectrum. I don’t like degradation, so I don’t do it. I don’t call people “slut” or “bitch”. I never have. I don’t like scenarios that look like rape, and therefore I don’t participate in them.
I will however defend other people’s right to do those things, as long as they can find willing partners to do them with, because I have a clear enough sense of boundaries to realize that what I like and dislike is not necessarily going to correlate with what other people like and dislike. People are funny that way.
Another thing that I think these people are a little confused about is how the dom/sub dynamic works in general. Let me give a little example of how it actually works.
So, I used to have a boyfriend who loved breath play. I’m kind of in the middle on that – I can get a kick out of it, but if I’m not doing it I won’t miss it. For me it’s a spice rather than the main course. It’s not something that I tend to initiate. So how did I end up in a situation in which I was doing breath play on a regular basis, you ask?
My sub wanted me to. This is how it happened. One day we were fucking and I was on top of him, straddling him. I was holding his hands over his head and he took one of them and pulled it down to his neck. Being a smart girl who is able to read body language, I wrapped my fingers around his neck as much as I could and squeezed. He went all boneless and started moaning. So, I brought my other hand down and wrapped them both around his neck, which worked much better as I have rather small hands. He got very happy indeed. Then he begged me to do it harder. So I did.
Then he had the most intense orgasm I’d ever seen from him.
Hmm, says the young dom (I was 19). He seems to get a kick out of this. I rather like being able to make him make that noise he just made, and the begging was a lot of fun. We will have to investigate this further.
What I eventually figured out is that what really pushed him over the edge was to have his airway restricted just as he was about to come. Of course, being a dom I made him beg for it every time. I quickly discovered that the most effective way to produce the desired effect was for me to be on top leaning down with both thumbs pressing on his windpipe. I also discovered that I really, really liked the whole him going all boneless and melty thing, and that I also liked seeing the marks of my hands on his neck. We both discovered that said marks tended to be rather alarming to concerned friends and relatives, so I bought him a choker necklace, which served as a sort of collar that only he and I understood the meaning of. Problem solved! It was also kind of pretty. And fun to play with in public and make him get all squirmy.
Now, what is the point of this story? From the point of view of people who are not familiar with BSDM it seems to be assumed that the dom is the one who decides what will be done at all times. This is not the case. In many cases the dom takes their cues from that seems to get the sub off. It’s about reading the other person’s body language. It’s about figuring out how to reduce the other person to that helpless, melty, boneless pile of goo state that is oh so much fun to watch.
Or at least it is for me.
This may not be how it works for other people. In fact, I’m certain that it isn’t, because when it comes to anything sexual people are wildly variable.
But it’s not an uncommon scenario, I suspect. A lot of what happens in BSDM is about what the sub craves. It’s not a one person does unto another situation in most cases. It’s a physical and mental conversation.
Now why is that so hard to understand? It seems to me that if any of the people who write stuff like our dear Emma above actually took the time to talk to people who do BSDM they would figure out that the whole dom/sub thing is a two way street very quickly. They would also figure out that most people stick to the more mild stuff, and that therefore behaving as if the average BSDM person typically indulges in hardcore activities that frequently necessitate a trip to the emergency room doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
But apparently that’s too much like hard work. So much easier to just imagine that things work the way they do in your own imagination.

And now to another matter. There have been a few times recently when I’ve said that fetish X freaks me out, or that I don’t like some of the terminology that we use to refer to certain acts, and I’m getting the feeling that when I say those things people are assuming that I mean “anyone who does those things is sick and wrong” or “no one should do that, ever!”. This is not the case. I’m a pretty direct person – if I actually meant “I think X is sick and wrong and no one should do it, ever” that’s what I would say. And I’m not a big fan of forbidding things in general. HOWEVER…
Everyone has stuff that they just don’t like. Everyone will have something BSDM-wise that tweaks their personal “icky” button, or that makes them feel freaked out or uncomfortable or that they’d basically rather just avoid. And that’s OK. Someone saying “I really don’t like fetish X and it kind of freaks me out” or even “sometimes when I hear people using term Y it really pisses me off” or even “discussions of fetish X trigger something nasty in me that I can’t quite explain” does not mean that the person is saying nobody should indulge in fetish X, ever. It just means that they, personally, do not like it. And that’s OK. None of us should be required to like EVERYTHING. Everyone has their personal no-go areas, and I think it’s important that we all be respectful of each other’s and not regard as an enemy anyone who does not share our particular kinks.
I also think that we need to accept that many mainstream people are always going to be shocked, appalled, whatever by some of the stuff we do. As long as those people don’t actually try to restrict our activities, they should be allowed to think or feel however they want. We can’t force other people to be kinky, and they have a right to their feelings just as much as we do. They even have a right to say that BSDM freaks them the hell out and they don’t want to be involved with it in any way.
What they don’t have a right to do is say things like Emma who I quoted above and have those statements go unchallenged. By all means we should point out when people are saying things about BSDM that are untrue and sometimes plain absurd. But I really don’t think that calling such people prissy, repressed, anti-sex freaks is going to help, no matter how tempting it is to do so. After all, isn’t that just the mirror image of what they keep doing to us?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Rebecca wins for comment of the week...

God thank you for posting these vids!
God damn you for soaking my panties (it's worse than porn)!

On the post with all the Dir en grey live vids.

That's me. Cassandra...political blogger, feminist, shameless smut peddler.
On cliques and other assorted bullshit

I’ve been doing some thinking about radfems recently, mostly spurred by some recent encounters with the Internet variety, and frankly, the more I see the less I like them.
Let’s start with this little gem that someone wrote at Genderberg and that was reposted on Renegade Evolution. Note that we do not know whether Sam herself wrote this or whether it was a commenter. The reason we do not know this is that Genderberg has an inner sanctum accessible only to the chosen few. Apparently the rest of us are a corrupting influence or something. As rude and thoroughly unhelpful as it is to regard other feminists as corrupting influences, it beats the hell out of pretending they don’t exist. Take a gander at this if you haven’t already seen it…

"I believe Ren Ev is porn marketing. There are many ways to market. What she's doing is called astro turfing. I wrote about it in that other thread. This type of marketing gets those people who don't like ads, but don't get that ads can take many forms, and one of the most successful is to make the AD seem like a program, or an article, or a blog. She's a front, something like BitchPhD is. That's another type of advertising. Ren Ev's being paid to popularize porn. No marketing initiative would ignore that type of marketing and the big porn market is now being managed by Time Warner and it's peers with all their marketing engine. This astro turfing is far the most effective nowadays, when people are sick of ads, marketers can still use methods like this to slide by. All those people who are drawn to REs blog, daily grow more and more accustomed to seeing her as just another performer. She's popularizing it. Taking the sting ot of it. Apparently she wrote about ass to mouth recently. No problem. Just use listerine. And they listen to her. She's marketing. She's archived by google. She comes up on searches for words and subject matter used in everyday searches. And that's the point of her blog."

Don your tinfoil hats! Now, there are all kinds of problems with this starting with the fact that just because you disagree with a person doesn’t mean that you get to pretend she doesn’t exist or that the big bad evil business types are making her do it. Hey, I’m a socialist and very much disinclined to trust big business, and even I think you people are way off base on this one.

Both Renegade Evolution and Bitch PhD are real women with real opinions. You can disagree with them, you can even dislike them, but dismissing them as sock puppets of the big bad porn biz is pretty damn stupid. Where is your proof? How do you know that RenEv is being paid to market porn via her blog? Are you aware that Bitch PhD was around for a long time before she hooked up with SG, and that she still doesn’t really write about porn very much? I’m having a hard time seeing how endless discussions of the latest cute thing PK did are a super-secret way to get people to buy porn.

Now I don’t like the Suicide Girls organization. I think they really are guilty of false advertising. I think they take advantage of the gullibility and wish to be liked of young women who mostly felt like freaks and rejects in high school, and who are still young enough for that to really sting. Specifically, they take advantage of their employees by grossly underpaying them and tying them into contracts which I’m willing to bet most people in the mainstream porn biz would never be foolish enough to sign. The whole thing’s a crock of shit, if you want my honest opinion. Smoke and mirrors designed to assuage the guilty consciences of a bunch of leftist-leaning alterna-guys and provide a cheap thrill for guys who kind of dig the alterna look but know very well that in real life they have no hope in hell of getting actual alterna girls to give them the time of day.
So, do I think that Bitch PhD is perhaps a little misguided in her belief that she can do some good by working with SG? Maybe. Even if that were the case, does that mean that everything she’s done in the past is invalid and she never was anything but a front for the porn biz?

Um, no, it doesn’t. The fact that Ren Ev actually DOES work in the sex biz doesn’t make her a front either. And if her site is supposed to be advertising for the porn biz then her site is doing a crappy job, because it hasn’t changed my opinion of the sex trade one bit. I don’t think it’s really intended to, either.

In fact, you want to know what I really think? I don’t think porn is an important issue. I think that the aspects of the sex trade that involve women who were trafficked, women who want out, are absolutely important feminist issues BUT I don’t think that conflating those women with women who work in that business of their own free will is helpful in any way. Personally, I would never under any circumstances want to work in the sex trade. I would be miserable and hate every second of it. But, unlike some other people, I have a clear enough sense of boundaries to realize that I am not every woman and it is not in fact all in me, no matter what the song might say. To assume that I know how other women feel about that industry just because we share the same kind of genitalia is both foolish and patronizing, especially when some of those women are actually SAYING that they feel differently.

Rule number one of feminism, folks – listen to what other women say about their own subjective experiences and believe them. When did we forget that?

Now, at some point the anti-porn stance seems to have become part of the standard feminist position in the same way that support for abortion is standard, or at least SUCH IS ASSUMED TO BE THE CASE BY MOST RADICAL FEMINISTS. The problem is, on this particular issue there is no real consensus, no matter how often certain radfems scream “yes there is a consensus and all REAL feminist agree with me, the rest of you are imposters!”.
The rest of us are not imposters. We are people who do not agree with you. Learning to deal with people who one does not agree with is one of those things that separate adults from children. It’s a basic life skill.
The funny thing is that, despite what the anti-porn contingent seems to assume, many of those who disagree with them are not actually big fans of porn. I’m not. I just don’t think it’s an important enough issue to deserve so much focus. I also don’t think that it’s OK to sideline any feminist who isn’t willing to fall into step with the anti-porn camp. To be perfectly honest I used to be a lot more anti-porn than I am now, and a great deal of my move away from that stance was prompted by the fact that I stopped and listened to a lot of what comes out of the anti-porn camp and came to the conclusion that most of it is disingenuous nonsense.

See, I’m a linguistics geek. I pay attention to language. And the language that the anti-porn people use…well, that language is very telling. Sam’s comments about pro-porn women only caring about their own “wet pussies”, Twisty referring to men’s dicks as “funk-filled bratwurst”…

Well, honestly, after a while it’s hard not to wonder if the problem those people have is really with porn, or if it’s actually a problem with sex. A dislike of all things fleshy, if you will.

I happen to rather like both dicks and pussies. I don’t much care for seeing either described in “ew, icky” terms. I do not see how such descriptions are helpful to the feminist cause overall. I do not see how a disdain for all things fleshy is going to advance the status of women as a whole. In fact, given how often in the past women’s supposedly fleshy nature has been used against us, I rather suspect that such disdain is likely to do far more harm than good.

So, since the radfems are so enthusiastic about practicing armchair psychology on the rest of us, how about we turn that around for a while?

Here’s the subjective impression of where a lot of the stuff that seems to be standard opinion on the radfem side comes from. A lot of radfems seem to be fundamentally ascetic people. They don’t seem to like bodily things very much. They seem to be suspicious of most pleasures of the flesh. They seem to believe that such things are unimportant and that those to whom they are important are shallow, debased individuals. Many radfems seem to be of the temperament that, in ages past and in some cultures even today, would be best suited to a monastic environment. Twisty is a perfect example. If someone could find her a mountaintop to meditate on she’d probably be quite happy as long as regular taco delivery could be arranged.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. Some people are just wired that way. The problem comes when people who are wired that way start to assume that their way is the only right way and that those who are wired differently are, as said before, shallow and debased and etc.

The problem with that is that by that definition, about 95% of the human race is shallow and debased. Most people are not ascetics, even when those people are women. Most of us are quite happy being fleshy beings, and some of us even revel in it.

So, what do the radfems propose to do about that? Are they even aware just how tiny of a minority they actually are? Of how fundamentally different most of the human race is, and of the fact that most people wouldn’t want to be ascetics even if they could be?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

So I guess I do get to see Dir en grey again this summer after all.
The Deftones added some dates, and they are in fact coming to San Francisco! Not that I give a shit about The Deftones really, but they do deserve some credit for having great taste in opening bands. Plus, their crowd is actually the right demographic for Dir en grey from a musical point of view, so it will be interesting to see the reaction and hopefully they’ll sell some CDs. Damn that’s going to be a weird crowd. I wish The Warfield allowed cameras, not in order to take pics of the band (those never come out well anyway), but I would love to be able to take pics of the girls who will inevitably show up in full Lolita outfits and try to squeeze their way into the pit. I would also love to capture pictorial evidence of how bemused the dudes there to see The Deftones will be by the presence of large numbers of conventionally attractive women in the audience, especially if the Vivienne Westwood clad babes who flew over from Japan for the last tour show up again. I don’t really like The Deftones, and I REALLY didn’t like them live last summer, but it does occur to me that I would be more likely to enjoy the show if I knew the setlist better. Does anyone know of a place I can download some of their stuff (and before anyone bitches at me for illegal file sharing, if I actually LIKE any of it I’ll buy it, which is pretty much how file sharing works in general)? A site that streams their stuff would work too. Also, if anyone local is lurking and is going to be at the show drop me a line. I’m not sure yet who of the people I know here is going. Details – Warfield, 7/2. I love The Warfield

And hey, it's a great excuse to post gratuitous pics from the last tour.






Saturday, April 14, 2007

So I was chatting to verte over at Trin’s place and I left a comment, and then I though about it later and realized that in my drunken haze (don’t ask – basically booze makes Mr Cassandra sleepy and me hyper, so here I am, wide awake!) I actually articulated something oddly profound about the whole radfem vs sex positive dynamic (or maybe it just feels like a profound insight to me because I’m pissed).

Here’s the original comment…

And now I sound really anti-Brit...sorry! I do love my homeland really, I just get a bit frustrated with the resistance to change sometimes. Hanging out on some of those blogs you mentioned feels like being trapped in the kitchen with a bunch of your aunties lecturing you about your skirts being too short and wearing too much eyeliner...while you're trying to talk to them about big things like the war in Iraq. It gets tedious pretty quickly.

And then I thought…you know, that’s kind of what talking to the more inflexible kind of radfem makes me feel like in general. Like I’m at one of those awful family events where you end up stuck in the kitchen with all the old folks and that one cousin you never liked who always gave you the evil eye any time you seemed to be enjoying yourself, and they’re all lecturing you about your choice of clothing and that terribly boy with long hair you keep hanging out with and why you can’t settle down and get a sensible job like your cousin Tina and for God’s sake why do you have to dye your hair such weird colors! What are you thinking? Why can’t you just conform, God damn it?
Who do you think you are, young lady?

And then I got to thinking about a certain spinster aunt…I’m not sure if she was deliberately playing off of this dynamic in naming her online persona or if it’s just one of life’s lovely little ironies, but I’m betting I’m not the only person who’s noticed this dynamic.

The interaction between radfems and sex-positive feminists positions the radfems as the nagging kill-joy aunties and sex positive feminists as those crazy kids with the funny hair who need to stop pissing around and go out and get a real job. And it happens all the damn time.

Is that a healthy dynamic? Probably not. Who’s to blame for it? Probably both sides to a certain degree, although of course from my perspective I’m going to be a bit biased in favor of our lot. What’s to be done about it? Can anything be done about it?

Now that’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it? Anyone have any ideas?

Original thread is here, BTW.

Note - points at image. I like him. I REALLY like him.
What's the bets that if some of the kind of radfems I'm talking about here stumble across this post they will...
A. Assume he's a girl
B. Yell at me about exploiting women for posting a pic of a poor, helpless, stocking clad woman (man) who is clearly being exploited (exploiting himself for fun and profit).

Friday, April 13, 2007

Friday not-so-random 10 – Music To Fuck To (or to get you in the mood)

I keep meaning to do the Friday Random Ten thing but I’m never awake enough to remember when I first get up, so, how about 10 with a theme?
Songs that are sexy. Songs that get you in the mood. Songs that you want to hear while doing the deed.
This is a game that I used to play with friends and it can actually tell you a lot about what people are like, sexually speaking. For me, if anyone mentions sweet soul or anything involving jazz or, god forbid, saxophones then that’s them off my list of potentials!
So, my ten. Maybe next week I should do albums instead of just songs?

Ministry – Stigmata
White Zombie – More Human Than Human
Dir en grey – Byoshin
Led Zeppelin – When The Levee Breaks
The Doors – Break On Through…
Placebo – Nancy Boy
Dir en grey – Zomboid
Rob Zombie – Dragula
Stone Roses – I Wanna Be Adored

And of course, if I’ve had lots of coffee…
Ministry – Jesus Built My Hotrod

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

So am I paying attention to subtext or do I just have no sense of humor?
Mr Cassandra and I attempted to watch Borat this weekend. We made it about 30 minutes in before giving up and turning it off.
Here’s the thing. I get what the joke is supposed to be with this movie – we’re not really being racist by openly mocking this dude from Kazakhstan, we’re just making an ironic comment on America’s ignorance about the rest of the world! For lo, we are very very clever! And he himself is Jewish and makes jokes about Jewish people and therefore it can’t possibly be offensive!
I’m not sure that I buy that, actually. I’m not sure that just because the creator is a Jewish man and the character he plays is an anti-Semite that gives him a get-out-of-racism-free card when it comes to mocking Kazakhs.
Then there’s the element which isn’t so much about race as it is about class and culture. Kazakhstan is poor. Really poor. And there are lots of historical reasons for that, many of them having to do with decisions made by the leaders of the former Soviet Union. The widespread poverty there has jack shit to do with who Kazakhs are as people. Am I the only one here who thinks that mocking poverty is in rather poor taste?
Kazakhstan is also predominantly Muslim, with the secondary religion being Russian Orthodox. Not only am I not convinced that there’s not some religious bigotry going on here, I’m also not convinced that it is at all politically advisable for a bunch of American intellectuals to have proclaimed their adoration for a movie that reinforces the idea that people in a country that is largely Muslim are uneducated buffoons. I have a friend who grew up in a small town near Moscow and I remember her saying when this movie came out how uncomfortable the online blurbs about it she saw made her, because she grew up surrounded by jokes about Kazakhs and other people from Central Asia and to her this sounded just like that. Her comment was part of the reason I didn’t go see the movie when it came out. But a work buddy lent it to Mr Cassandra, so…
Honestly, the movie made me really uncomfortable. Not only was it not very funny, I sat there watching it with the same kind of queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach that I get when I see people on the news making comments about Muslims as a group, or when my mother-in-law tells racist jokes. One’s gut is often a better judge than one’s intellect, I’ve found, and in this case my intellect was telling me “well other people didn’t seem to find it offensive so maybe I’m overreacting” but my gut was saying “oh hell no, get this shit off of my TV right now!”.
The gut won. But now I’m wondering…did anyone else have the same reaction to this movie? Of all the reviews I saw the only complaints seemed to be that it was too slow and too long, and that some people were offended by the way it portrayed white-bread mainstream America. Nobody that I saw even mentioned that it might be, well, kind of racist. Not to mention snottily classist and condescending.
So, am I just a humorless harpy? Is there some meta-joke here that I’m missing? Or did anyone else get that nasty pit of the stomach there’s something wrong with this picture feeling?

And another thing…why the hell is it still considered OK to make fun of people for being poor? Or for being “unsophisticated”? And do people really not see that “oh look those people from X country are so unsophisticated, tee hee” is in itself racist? Add in the “Not like us, we’re SO beyond that” and you really look like a gigantic asshole.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Looking at the intra-feminist blog wars through the lens of South Park.
Did anyone else see the episode of South Park that was about dotcoms? The one where there were a bunch of tiny little gnomes stealing Cartman’s underwear and the kids followed them down to their lair? What the found was hundreds of gnomes running a complex undies-stealing operation. The kids of course asked the gnomes why they were stealing underpants, and the gnomes pointed to a chalkboard one which the following business plan was outlined.

1. Steal underpants
2. ?
3. Profit!

Coming from someone who was actually part of the internet boom, trust me, that’s actually a pretty good analogy. I worked for companies whose business plans made considerably less sense – at least if the worse came to the worse you could wear the underpants. Why would anyone want to sign up to have their dry cleaning arranged via the Internet?
(That was an actual business plan, BTW)

To me the anti-porn arguments frequently sound like they’re being made by the Underpants Gnomes. There are all these vague assertions that getting rid of porn will destroy the patriarchy and help women and I have to ask…how? The plan seems to be as follows.

1. Get rid of porn
2. ?
3. No more patriarchy! Women are free!

And I still don’t understand what step 2 is supposed to be. I’m not sure they do either. Which is quite important – if a group of people are trying to convince others to join their crusade and actually hope to succeed then they will generally need to convince those other people of what the point of the whole exercise is. In other words, they need a plan. What’s the plan in this scenario? I’ve been reading anti-porn arguments for about 15 years now and I’ve yet to hear one. I’ve yet to hear anyone explain how getting rid of porn will bring down the patriarchy in actual, concrete terms.
The problem I have with this is that I’ve lived in one of the most patriarchal societies on earth, Saudi Arabia, and they essentially have no porn there. And does that make the society any less patriarchal? Does is stop men from abusing women? Does it improve men’s attitudes to women? Does it stop some men from viewing women as nothing more than bodies designed to service them?
Nope. So, if you want me to commit any time and energy to your cause, you’re going to have to convince me that the effort will be well spent. What is step 2 of the plan? How will getting rid of porn actually help women as a whole? And why is this the key issue, the one that’s more important than any other, the feminist litmus test?
I’m still waiting.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Boys Are Back In Town…
Dir en grey, that is. They’re coming back to the US in June to open for the Deftones. I’m still not sure if I’m going to any shows on this tour, depends on both work and finances (the closest show will be LA, which is kind of a trek).
I remain determined to convince at least one of my online buds to go check these guys out. Seriously, if you like metal, punk or industrial, these guys are awesome. They also do some of the prettiest ballads I’ve ever heard. I don’t love them just because they’re easy on the eyes, you know.
So, in an attempt to spread the DEG love and because at some point Trin asked me to recommend some more songs I’m going to post links to a bunch of live stuff on You Tube. I recently took a look to see if there was any footage from the US tour posted and holy shit there’s a lot of stuff! These are some random samplings. I will also take requests if people want more of the heavy songs, or more of the slow, pretty songs etc, since I know their playlist back to front and sideways.
Note – A couple of these have subtitles, which may be interesting for those who are bothered by not knowing what a song is about. HOWEVER…these guys write lyrics that would send the average sailor running out of the room in terror towards the nearest therapist’s office, hands clasped over his ears. I’m not kidding. Check out Zomboid if you don’t believe me.

Now there are a lot of songs here, because I really love this band, but if one were to sample only a few to begin with…If you like metal I’d say start with Ugly, New Age Culture, Obscure, Marmalade Chainsaw, Grief, Increase Blue, Byoshin, Rasetsokoku, Mr Newsman, Child Prey. If you like ballads I’d say Zakuro, Mushi, Higeki…, Itoshi…, Undecided, Ain’t Afraid To Die. If you like poppier, more accessible stuff I’d say Yokan, Umbrella, Raison D’Etre, Jessica, 304 Goushitsu, Riyuu, Sajou No Uta, Ryojoku no ame, 24 KO Cylinders. If you like experimental stuff I’d say Filth, Zomboid, Mask, KR Cube, Children, Jesus Christ Rock & Roll, Gyakujou Tannou Keloid Milk.

How all Dir en grey live shows begin…
The band always come out one by one and each member spends some time greeting the crowd in his own unique way. This is always done in the same order – Shinya, Die, Toshiya, Kaoru, Kyo.

Being a practical bunch they came up with some intro music so that they weren’t just walking out in silence. Hence, GDS. It’s this weird kind of techno-ish thing that has never been on any album. As soon as it starts up the crowd goes nuts. The words he’s saying are “kill, kill, kill”. The audience chants along and punches the air in time with each “kill”. It’s honestly one of the weirdest and most fun band-related rituals I’ve ever participated in – I would love to see your average MRA’s reaction to thousands of girls jumping up and down and screaming “kill!” in unison.

So, that explained…here’s GDS merging into Child Prey. They may well play this song in June. The clip is from the It Withers and Withers DVD, released in 2006.
I love Child Prey. It’s super-aggressive but then there’s this gorgeous guitar part in the bridge that always makes me think of fighter jets swooping through the sky. I also know a girl on LJ who uses the refrain as her screen-name – “kiss me, kill me, love me”.

And since this is Dir en grey…to follow, how about something that sounds completely different? This is KR Cube. I’m actually not crazy about the studio version of this song, although the video is awesome. The live version, however, is pure love. From the 5 Ugly Kingdom DVD (2003). This is at Budokan, by the way. Damn that place is huge!

After that, how about something slow and kind of pretty? 24KO Cylinders, also from 5 Ugly Kingdom. Also note about the 5 Ugly Kingdom clips…the outfits are weird. Die looks like a hedgehog that got into a fight with a jar of manic panic. Seriously, I think he made his own little hole in the ozone layer as a result of this show alone. And his suit is so shiny!

OK, that’s enough slowness for now. Want some upbeat punk? Umbrella. One of my favourite songs – it always puts me in a better mood.

Then how about some classic metal? This is a really old song, from the first indie mini album, but the actual footage is from 2003. Byoshin.
(Side note –I refer to this one as “music to fuck to”)

And some more metal! They’ll definitely play this one in June. The IIID Empire, from the Code of Vulgarism DVD. A charming little ditty about totalitarian regimes.

And another one they’ll definitely play live…C, from It Withers and Withers.

Yet another song guaranteed to be played at the shows in June! Ryojoku no ame, from the new album. The footage is from the show at Budokan a few months ago.

And then there’s the weird stuff…Gyakujou Tannou Keloid Milk.

OK, time for something pretty. Mr Cassandra, who in general hates heavy music, loves this one. The first time he heard it he stopped what he was doing and said “damn, what’s that? That’s beautiful!”. Higeki wa Mabuta o Oroshita Yasashiki Utsu. Yes, they really love those long titles. The footage is from the tour they just finished. I think this is at Budokan again.

And here’s another one…Zakuro. Beautiful guitar work from both guys on this one.

Another acoustic-based song. Check out the guitar duet about ¾ of the way through.

And this one is just too pretty to be true with the visuals in the background. Another really long title…Itoshisa wa Fuhai ni Tsuki. They’ll probably play this in June, too.

The midpoint between prettiness and rock…Red ‘Em. From the It Withers and Withers DVD. Another great bassline on this one.

And Sajou No Uta

Really old one…with yet another killer bassline. Beautiful song. Another one that non-heavy-music-loving Mr Cassandra adores. 304 Goushitsu, Hakushi no Sakura.

Another old one – Mask live at Osaka Jo Hall. Note the completely over the top VK outfits. How the hell did they run around in those outfits without falling over? Kyo’s apparent attempt to do the Macarena during this song is a little disturbing, so lets just ignore that shall we? Great song, though.

And while we’re talking about old stuff…I already posted the video for this. I’m not fond of the (horribly overproduced) album version of this song, but the live version is another matter entirely. And again with the killer basslines! Raison D’Etre, live at Osaka Jo in 1999.

OK, enough prettiness for now. How about some groovy metal? Ugly, from the 5 Ugly Kingdom DVD. This is the song that wakes my ass up in the morning.

And one of my favourite songs. For most people who got into DEG within the last 3 or 4 years this seems to have been the song that did it. Kasumi. Pretty but kind of creepy. Classic DEG sound - wierd rhythm, heavy but with a pretty chorus, what the hell genre do you put this in?

Time for some more metal! I love both of these songs. When I was going through my anti-metal phase a few years back these were the songs that brought me back into the fold. First, Marmalade Chainsaw.

Then, Increase Blue. This is kind of funny given the most recent feminist dust-up. This song is about porn. Specifically inspired by the fact that the band recorded about half of one album in LA and encountered the prevalance of the porn industry there. The tone is neither praising nor condemning, it simply is. So, am I "allowed" to like this?

This one's pretty earwormy. Gotta love the refrain (in English) - Goodbye, kiss me. Goodbye, kiss you.

Funny thing about this one...One guitar player (Kaoru) writes about 75% of the songs. The other guitar player (Die) writes most of the remainder. I can usually tell a Die song by the rhythm, and this is a perfect example. Another earworm. Riyuu.

And some more grooviness. This is kind of Rage Against the Machine-like, except much sexier. For some inexplicable reason the one word in this song I recognize is “ketai”, which means “cell phone”. Weird. Anyway…Children.

Metal again. I love all of these songs.

Hades…I love the part at the end where he says in English “Hangman kills me”.

Grief. This is from the new album. They’ll definitely play this in June. Affectionately referred to by me as “the fuck you song”, for reasons that will become obvious upon listening to it. How many times can he say “fuck you” in one song? Let’s count, shall we? . The quality’s kind of crappy though since it’s a (very much unofficial) bootleg.

One of the first real metal songs they wrote. I LOVE this. Rasetsukoku.

Another one’s they’ll definitely do in June…this is the song that really freaked out the dude from Korn when he went to see them in LA and the audience was singing the chorus back to them…in Japanese. Which they do at every show, even when the audience is full of white kids. This is so emo it’s not even funny, but I love it anyway. The Final.

The song that scared the crap out of the dude from Wired they sent to interview them in 2006. Who sends a computer geek to interview a metal band? I believe the word demonic was used. Not that I blame of this song sound downright evil, and I LOVE IT. Interesting note - every time I've seen them live this has been the song that the crowd has gone nuts during. I suspect that tells you a lot about their audience.

Kind of a funky one. Jesus Christ Rock and Roll.
LOVE the chorus on this one. Watch out for the groovy little bridge about 3 minutes in.

Some sad prettiness. Kyo looks like he’s about to start crying in this one. Gorgeous acoustic and electric guitar work on this one.

And here’s an example of why I worship the ground Toshiya walks on. The melody in the intro? That’s him. How many bands do you know that have the bass playing the melody? Notice that almost very review of the recent US tour mentioned Toshiya as the standout from a technical point of view. He’s not just a pretty face.
He wrote this song, BTW.
Bottom of Death Valley.

And another upbeat, catchy one...Yokan (Premonition). Yep, this is definately a Die song. From the Blitz 5 Days DVD…in which they sold out 5 days straight at Budokan. The tickets were all gone in less than a day. Did I mention the fanbase is nuts?

Now this one I’m torn about. The music is stunning. The lyrics…well, let’s just say that it’s about abortion. And I don’t think that men should say too much about abortion, especially if they’re going to adopt the emotionally manipulative tactic of writing from the point of view of a fetus. And I know that he was only about 22 at the time, but still. Kyo writes lyrics from points of view that are not his own all the time, and normally I’m OK with that, but with this song…well, again, men are not in a position fully grok what is involved in this decision, and so IMO the smartest thing they can do is STFU. And the first time I figured out what the lyrics meant I wanted to punch the little fucker. Let’s hope he’s gained a little perspective over the years. I will note that they haven’t played this live in a long time.
The actual song, however, the music…weird and creepy and absolutely stunning. It’s almost impossible to believe that this was on their first album.
Do I sound conflicted or what?

And a short, simple one. R to the Core. Love this song. Always a crowd favourite.

More of Cassandra’s favourite songs…Filth. I fucking love this song. Mr Cassandra calls it the poltergeist song because of the creepy looped voices.
Hearing other bands attempt to cover this is painful. They never can get that wierd, syncopated rhythm right.

Zomboid. Love the rhythm on this one. It's even more syncopated than the last one. Damn, Shinya’s turned into a hell of a drummer.
Note – This one has subtitles. The lyrics are rather blatantly sexual. And not very hetero. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
(This song is of course Music To Fuck To part 2)

And one that’s so damn gorgeous it’s ridiculous. The album version of this song is nearly 12 minutes long. It was kind of their Pink Floyd moment. Macabre.

And this…a metal band, doing a song with a full string section and kids singing on the chorus. Only in Japan. It’s very pretty, though, in an unforgiveably sappy sort of way. Ain’t Afraid to Die.

This one truly is beautiful, but if you speak enough Japanese to understand the words it will probably make you cry. It’s about child abuse, written from the point of view of the child, who seems to be about 8 or 10. She keeps crying out for her mother, and it’s not until you get further into it that you realize that Mom is dead. And that Dad is really, really not a nice person. Also, remember where I said that Kyo writes lyrics from points of view not his own? Perfect example. This song also has one of the best bass tracks I have ever heard. It's does he do that?
Absolutely gut-wrenching song.

Another one that’s in the current live setlist. Mr Newsman. They’ve been opening shows with this recently. Sounds amazing live. This is another funky but heavy one.

My favorite song from Vulgar. This is one of very few on which Kaoru sings backup…and the reason why is obvious if you listen to it. Damn that man has a deep, growly voice! Wouldn’t exactly be appropriate for a ballad.
I LOVE this song.
New Age Culture

And now, to finish with, a song so bouncy and happy I can’t believe these guys wrote it! I love this particular live performance. I was trying to find something that showed the weird love-in that happens between the band and the audience sometimes, and this is a good example. I’m especially fond of the parts where the guys are all running through the crowd. Toshiya is flirting like mad as usual, Kaoru is striking his "I'm a rock star, dude" pose and doing inappropriate things with his tongue, and even Kyo is smiling. Damn, who knew he could smile?
Jessica, from the 5 Ugly Kingdom DVD.

Enjoy, all, and go see them open for the Deftones!

And now, mostly for Zan and Scarlet PervyGirl…remember when I said they used to do suggestive things to each other onstage for the amusement of the female fans? This is what I meant. The first clip was taken after their first show. The fans are watching them through a 2-way mirror. The second is Toshiya’s birthday. Shinya is hugging him and swinging him around in the air (hey, he doesn’t weigh very much) and for some reason there are bunnies kissing on the cake. The third clip…well, just take a look. Toshiya molests Kyo. Kyo looks like a 10 year old standing next to Toshiya. Psst, guys...don't put the giant next to the little shrimpy one! Fanservice…

Toshiya’s birthday…aww. Toshiya has a nice ass in those leather pants, and Shinya’s stronger than he looks.

Toshiya sexually harassing Kyo

And then there's the old stuff...Die and Kaoru. Aoi Tsuki, Osaka Jo, 1999.
Seems like everyone likes to come up and grab Kaoru from behind, huh? Ahem. No comment.

And this is just for pure amusement value. Ever heard of fanvideos? They're a pretty common teenage phenomenon. What they do is take little bits of footage from all over the place and jam them together over a song. Some of them are truly mortifying, but some are actually kind of funny. I’m quite fond of this one, mostly because it’s full of footage of the band being really silly back when they were a lot younger. Sadly, they no longer do things like…attempt to play baseball on stage. In full costume including miniskirts and thigh high boots.
Ah, those were the days. The music in the background isn’t theirs, obviously, it’s from Dance Dance Revolution, which Kaoru and Toshiya are playing in one of the clips.
They’re not very good at it.

Kick The Can Fanvideo

And this one is a sample of just how silly grown men can be when you put them in a group. Set to the song What’s My Age Again? Which is most appropriate.

And another one! I actually love this one. Set to the song I’m Too Sexy. Best parts – Toshiya licking Kyo, Kyo molesting Kaoru (who is wearing one hell of an outfit...seriously, can we have him wear that again? Please?), Kyo performing fellatio on his mic stand. And Toshiya doing the martial arts lie on your back and then flip to your feet from your shoulders move. In leather pants, naked from the waist up.
I can think of lots of uses for a man that agile.
Do try not to hyperventilate, Zan.

Now this…this is purely for female gaze indulging purposes. Look at what Toshiya is wearing…look at the way he moves.
Now tell me that man doesn’t know he’s being objectified and love every second of it!
Note – Kaoru really isn’t a very good drummer. Good thing he has a day job!

Bonus funniness...Kaoru making fun of Kyo's singing.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Since Sally Sunshine tagged me...
Note! Victoria, Zan and Veronica, I'm tagging you!

A- Available or Single Neither
B- Best Friend My husband. 1, 2, 3…aww.
C- Cake or Pie Cake, as long as it’s chocolate. I prefer the really dense Italian flourless kind.
D- Drink of Choice Nigori sake or vodka, sometimes red wine. Definitely not beer. Martinis are always welcome!
E- Essential Item Definitely my mp3 player. I’m a music geek. I never leave home without it.
F- Favorite Color Red or black. Purple works too if it’s dark. Did I mention that I used to be a goth? And that I’m kind of indecisive?
G- Gummi Bears or Worms Gummi bears
H- Hometown Honestly, I don’t really have one. I moved abroad for the first time when I was 2, I don’t even remember the town I was born in. If you mean where I think of as home then London.
I- Indulgence Travel I flew to Arizona in February just to see a band!
J- January or February January. February was my mother’s birthday (on Valentines Day), every year around that time I get sad.
K- Kids Hell no!
L- Life is incomplete without Good friends, good food, and good music.
M- Marriage Date 6/21/98
N- Number of Siblings? Zero
O- Oranges or Apples? Both
P- Phobias/Fears None, really. I’m not fond of biting/stinging insects (wasps, bees etc) but that’s about it. I do have a semi-phobia about sharks, though.
Q- Favorite Quote
For some reason I hate quotes. It always makes me think the person is too lazy to find something witty to say themselves.
R- Reasons to smile
Sunshine, hugs, my cat, the sound of rain falling when you’re lying in bed at night, that feeling you get at a really great concert where the crowd is all in synch and the bass is so strong you can feel it through your entire body
S- Season Summer
T- Tag Three Hmm…Victoria, Zan and Veronica
U- Unknown Fact About Me None. Seriously, ask me anything. Honestly and openness are probably my most distinguishing characteristics
V - Vegetarian or Oppressor of Animals Oppressor of animals. I love grilled meat. I do eat tons of vegetables, though.
W- Worst Habit I eat too much candy, which is good for neither the ass nor the teeth. Also procrastination.
X - X-rays or Ultrasounds Ultrasounds. My mother died of breast cancer so I have to get checked, and apparently my breast tissue is “too dense” for mammograms to work. Which is fine with me, because they hurt like hell.
Y- Your Favorite Foods Chocolate, sushi and/or sashimi (mmm, Maguro), grilled meats, Imam Bayaldi, chana dal, chicken and basil stir fry with garlic and chillies, almost any kind of curry, pho, Vietnamese chicken salad, bun with grilled beef, kung pao chicken, stir fried snow pea sprouts, coconut rice, Persian melon, clementines, bananas, cherries, pomegranates, chicken tikka, miso, jambalaya, a really good steak, hamachi kama, mongolian beef, udon, Turkish lentil soup, chicken pilaf, brownies, Thai red curry, grilled fish, asparagus, eggplant, spinach but only if it’s raw or barely cooked, wine gums, Mexican dark caramel, gumbo, Japanese beef and potato stew (Mommy food), beef rendang, nasi goreng, chilli crab, laksa, elderflower sorbet.
Z- Zodiac Virgo Ox

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

And Twisty misses the point yet again.
I haven’t read I Blame The Patriarchy since the blow job and trans hate-fest debacles, but Octogalore brought a certain thread to my attention that some of you may have missed. Now normally I advise avoiding IBTP on general “WTF is wrong with these people?” principles, but in this particular case the level of shark-jumping, mind-boggling bullshit is so high that I couldn’t resist mentioning it.
So apparently Helen Mirren is a whore. Why, you ask? Because she was featured in an article in Architectural Digest in which she posed on her bed (you know, so that we could see her bedroom, since it is after all an architecture magazine) wearing a ballgown. That slut! Seriously, nothing says “shameless hussy” to me like a ballgown.
Hang on a minute. A ballgown? I’ve worn one on multiple occasions, and let’s just say they’re not the sexiest garments ever made as a whole. When I think ballgown I tend to think “dowager duchess” rather than “Girls Gone Wild”.
But women are the sex class after all, therefore every clothing choice we make must imply something about our sexuality, right? Right?
Except no. What a ballgown signifies has nothing to do with sex…it’s about class. Specifically, it says that the wearer has enough disposable income to waste some on a completely impractical garment that one only has occasion to wear if one frequently attends upper crust functions.
Mirren is most definitely in that demographic. She’s wealthy and has been for a while, she’s successful, and she’s a Brit. If one is a wealthy and prominent person who lives in the UK one is frequently invited to the kind of events where a ballgown is required.
But since when does wearing a ballgown and sitting on one’s bed in one’s well decorated room imply submissive sexbot availability? The ACTUAL subtext is as follows – I am rich, I am a member of the establishment, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. You think that your plebian ass has a chance at getting into this bed, or even this house? Surely you jest.
Now I personally have no particular issue with any of that. Mirren is a great actress and she’s earned her success. From a feminist point of view she’s actually one of the better actresses out there – have these idiots never seen Cracker? Or was that show unacceptable too since she joined the patriarchal police force rather than setting up a lesbian commune and producing organic hemp?
As feminists we really need to cut other women a bit more slack. The urge to tear down successful women? To mock their choices, to make snide assertions about them, to imply judgement about their sex lives based on what they’re wearing? Not a good urge. Not feminist, not helpful to women overall.
This isn’t feminism, it’s sniping. And it needs to stop.
Also, how very Twisty to not even mention the class implications. Twisty and I are from the same social strata – I KNOW that she knows what a ballgown signifies. It’s a class marker, and one that someone with Twisty’s background cannot fail to notice.
But then discussing class fucks with the program, right? If we were to talk about class we might have to admit that things aren’t simple, that poor women have often been marginalized and ignored in feminist theory, that the rich white women are still talking over everyone else. And then, by God, we might have to talk about race. Can’t have that in Twisty-land.
So nope, Mirren posing in Architectural Digest is all about her being a sexbot and demonstrating willingness to fellate the patriarchy. (And note that this is Architectural Digest, not exactly knows for it’s hardcore porn. It’s not Penthouse, people) Class and race do not exist. Nothing exists apart from the fact that women are the Sex Class.
Must be nice to live in a world that simple, even if it only exists in your own imagination.

IBTP post is here

Gaze discussion still ongoing, BTW.

Monday, April 02, 2007

The Gaze…
The gaze is male. Ah, how that brings back memories. Theoretical bane of my existence during my college years, concept that makes me want to smack whoever invented it over the head with a mallet…oh, how I loathe that phrase.
Here’s why. I am, by nature, a lustful creature. I am also very, very visual. Trust me, you don’t even want to know how much space on my hard drive is dedicated to picture of sexy people (mostly men, a few women) being their sexy selves. None of this is actually porn per se, but I’m not so sure that one could say that the way I look at those pictures isn’t pornographic in some sense. And if anyone were to offer me actual porn featuring the same people…why thank you kindly, sir/madam, I’ll be happy to take that off your hands.
To be perfectly blunt I’m fairly certain that the only reason my hard drive doesn’t have any actual porn on it is that most porn does not cater to my specific tastes, and they are indeed rather specific. When it comes to men I have a very specific type, and that type is not commonly featured in either het or gay porn, although I’m fairly certain that if I was able and willing to really do some digging in Japan I could find things that do cater to my particular tastes. There are after all VK host bars (and no, I’m not kidding).
So, I’m a visual person. I like to look at people I find attractive. I’m also bisexual, which may give me a somewhat unusual perspective on the whole gaze issue that may be worth listening to.
Firstly, a definition. From Wikipedia…(whole page is here

“Laura Mulvey, in her essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema", introduced the concept of the gaze as a symptom of power asymmetry, hypothesizing about what she called the "male gaze". The theory of the male gaze has been hugely influential in feminist film theory and in media studies.
The defining characteristic of the male gaze is that the audience is forced to regard the action and characters of a text through the perspective of a heterosexual man; the camera lingers on the curves of the female body, and events which occur to women are presented largely in the context of a man's reaction to these events. The male gaze denies women agency, relegating them to the status of objects. The female reader or viewer must experience the narrative secondarily, by identification with the male.
Mulvey's essay was one of the first to articulate the idea that sexism can exist not only in the content of a text, but in the way that text is presented, and in its implications about its expected audience.
Some theorists also have noted the degrees to which persons are encouraged to gaze upon women in advertising, sexualizing the female body even in situations where female sexiness has nothing to do with the product being advertised.

And if this theory had stayed in the realm of film theory it would have been fine, but they had to go and generalize, didn’t they?
Now, first of all…how charmingly hetero-normative. What about lesbians, you may ask? And what about gay men, who have no particular reason to wish to gaze upon the female body in such a manner? Well, as always, a good academic can explain away any amount of reality that doesn’t fit their nice, neat little theory. And yes, I’m being snarky, but really, I’m willing to bet I’m not the first person who sat through every class in which this theory was discussed rolling their eyes, and I’m willing to bet that I won’t be the last either.
Basically I think this theory is bunk. Not because of the idea that sexism can lie hidden in subtext, mind – I’m with them on that part. The part of the theory I have a problem with is the idea of objectification.
At the risk of being thrown out of the sisterhood forever I’m going to say it – I objectify people. In fact, I look at people in an objectifying way all the time. By this I don’t mean “I look at people I find sexy”, I really do mean I watch people passing in the street and think “nice ass, shame about the face”. I do exactly what those evil, objectifying men supposedly do – I pick out specific body parts to admire with no regard for the personhood of the individual they are attached to. I look at people in movies, in music videos, in magazines, and to be honest, I’m looking at them as objects, not as people. I do it in the street, too – there’s a little running tally in my head of fuckable versus unfuckable into which every man I pass falls, and a goodly number of the women. And I do this all the damn time. Anyone who knows me in real life knows this, since I have a habit of sharing my internal monologue with my buddies. For some reason it seems that gay men are the most comfortable with this, proving to me at least once more that the prissy straight folk could learn a lot from gay culture if they could just get over their homophobia.
So, there you have it. From the point of view of this theory, I am essentially a man. The fact that I am lacking a penis and blessed with an abundance of boobage makes this a little confusing, but here’s the thing.
I think that everyone objectifies people. Not all the time maybe, and not people we actually know and have relationships with – in fact one’s ability to truly objectify another person may well be inversely related to how well one knows that person – but in some circumstances and at some times we all do it. I don’t think it’s a male thing particularly – I think it’s a human thing.
I also think that society does it’s best to program women not to do it, but that in the end there’s a limit to the extent that programming can override biology. The messages are definitely there, though, but here’s the interesting part (and the part that academic theory about The Gaze does a lousy job of explaining) – lesbians are apparently immune.
I remember that part of class quite clearly. It was printed right there in the textbook – women do not have the gaze, unless they are lesbians.
My reaction was basically, WTF? Lesbians are women too, why should such a basic, fundamental thing be different just because they’re attracted to women? So I started asking questions. It seems that my professor wasn’t used to students who asked questions, because she got rather cross with me. Basically she told me that women aren’t like that (nasty, superficial, objectifying), to which I replied, if that’s the case then what about the lesbians? Are you saying they’re not women? Or that the fact they supposedly have The Gaze makes them evil? Because I’m bi and if that’s what you’re saying…
Then she changed her tune. It’s because lesbians grew up in the same society as everyone else that they have learned to act like men, she said. To which I said – hang on a minute. Why do you assume that these women are just exhibiting learned behavior? How do you know that’s what’s going on? Have you asked them what it feels like from their perspective? And if that were the case, why wouldn’t straight women pick up the same behavior, being raised in the same society and all?
Well, no, apparently. Which is when things got really nasty. I said, what gives you (meaning the generic you as in academics) the right to speak for a group of people without even asking them how they feel, or what their lives are really like? Would it kill you to ask and then listen to what they have to say?
The conversation pretty much ended at that point – stuttering professor saved by the bell. The rest of the seminar group had basically been sitting around staring the whole time, mouths agape. Apparently people didn’t argue with that particular professor very often.
So then I went away and mulled it over for a while, digested if you will. And here’s the conclusion I came to.
None of this actually has anything to do with the gaze being inherently male, really, or else lesbians wouldn’t “have it” no matter how much brainwashing they were exposed to. Also note that how gay men look at each other is glossed over, although there’s plenty of theory about them being trained to look at women in an objectifying way.
What I think is really going on here is a prohibition against anyone looking at men in an objectifying way. The idea seems to be that being the object of The Gaze is demeaning, therefore it shouldn’t be directed at men – that in fact the very idea of it being directed at men is inconceivable. There’s also the idea that women don’t have enough sexual agency of their own to have any desire to look at other people in that way (except lesbians, somehow, don’t forget them!). The theory of The Gaze reinforces that idea, in my opinion, that women are without agency in a sexual sense, that we’re naturally receptive rather than active, that we’re not visually oriented, and I think that idea is nonsense. Sexist nonsense, too, which is why it continues to irk me that so many feminists accept it.
The other unspoken thing here is that if one is to be judged as an object, one can then be judged as an object that is flawed, or damaged, that doesn’t measure up, and I think that’s really at the heart of this theory. Male sociologists love it because it allows them to bask in the illusion that they are not being assessed and sized up on a daily basis, and in many cases found wanting. I actually had this conversation with my male professor in another seminar group, and it drove both him and several of the male students to frothing at the mouth fury. Now note, I’m not a very physically imposing or threatening person – I’m small, I’m soft and girly looking, I smile a lot. And yet those men reacted as if I was actively threatening them. Why?
I think it’s because I’m onto something. Because really, the idea that women don’t look at men in exactly the same lustful, objectifying, thoroughly lacking in regard for the content of their characters way that men look at women? Ridiculous. Go to any boy band show and watch the audience if you don’t believe me. Pick up a teen magazine. Tweener and teenage girls most definitely have the gaze, they just get taught to suppress it as they get older. It’s still there, though, just below the surface, waiting for its chance to break free, and in some of us it never got suppressed at all. Personally I think that’s a good thing.
So, to sum up this long and rambling entry…women have The Gaze. It’s not a male thing, it’s a human thing. Furthermore, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing either. It’s just how human sexuality works. Sure, at a certain point we form pair bonds and all that good stuff, but the initial impulse? Purely physical. And there’s nothing wrong with that at all. The only reason we think there is anything wrong with it is because we’re all steeped in weird dualistic ideas about the body being in opposition to the mind, soul versus flesh and all that crap, and the sooner we realize that in the end we’re all flesh the better off everyone will be.

And for those who share my tastes, something to gaze upon, produced for and marketed at women.

Still think we don’t have The Gaze?