sonneillonv: (Default)
 I apologize at the outset if I’m not very organized - I keep reminding myself I need to write about this and putting it off because I don’t have the energy.  If enough time goes by I’ll forget it entirely, so I’m going to try to hammer this out now.  Content warnings for homophobia and mention of pedophilia, bestiality, rape and rape culture, racism, etc.

ETA: This rant is dedicated to Jadelyn because she prodded me to actually write it instead of just talking about writing it.

 

When we talk about marriage equality, Conservatives have a set of arguments they bring to the table pretty consistently.  Most of these arguments are fallacious, insulting, or outright ludicrous, but that never seems to occur to them.  Folks on the pro-side find themselves sitting here wondering why on earth a Conservative would think legalizing gay marriage is the first step on a slippery slope toward legalizing bestiality - the two are nothing alike!  Right?  Pedophilia, same thing.  Anti-equality folks say it’s the next step after legalizing gay marriage.  If we let them fuck people of the same gender, they’ll want to fuck children, obviously!  No, wait, how on earth is that obvious?

I’m struck by how, in the face of these arguments, a lot of us seem to be getting upset for the wrong reasons.  Well, okay, not the ‘wrong’ reasons, maybe, but reasons that actually have nothing to do with the point.  We say things like “They’re comparing us to animals, how dehumanizing!” and “They’re perpetuating the stereotype that all gay men are pedophiles!  How disgusting!” but we’re not really looking at the perceived similarities between what anti-equality folks term, ‘abnormal relationships’.  WHY are they lumping these things in the same category?  Why is child abuse the next logical step forward from a loving relationship between two consenting adults?  And why by all that’s holy and good do they not recognize that the difference between a same-gender partner and a child, a dog, a toaster, or even a female spouse in a polygamous marriage where women are treated as property for religious reasons, is the ability to give meaningful consent???  This isn’t hard, for fuck’s sake!  It should be obvious!

There’s a parallel here that explains most of it, in my humble opinion, and it exists within our own pro-equality arguments and rebuttals, but I don’t see the connection being made very often, and that’s the perception of marriage as a property-transfer transaction.  A lot of times, when the anti-equality crowd brings up what they call “Biblical” or “Traditional” marriage, our side is there reminding them that “Biblical Marriage” involves:

Man + Woman

Man + Several Women

Man + Slave Women

Rapist + Victim (as long as she was a virgin, because if she wasn’t a virgin clearly she wanted it, oh, and also only if she was raped out in the country, because if she was raped in the city she would have screamed and fought and someone would have rescued her, so clearly if she was raped in the city she’s an adulteress who secretly wanted it)

Man + Wife + Wife’s Slaves

Man + Dead Brother’s Wife/Wives

Man + Any Virgin Women Who Survive The Conquest of His Enemies And Can Be Claimed By Him As Spoils of War

Funny thing… what do all these versions of Biblical marriage have in common?  Yeah, you guessed it - property and property transfer.  In the case of the rapist marrying his victim, he has to actually pay her father for damaging his property.  The rest of these either involve dowries or slavery, but regardless, ‘property transfer’ is the watchword of the day.  Of course these days we don’t hold with polygamy - in a world where women only outnumber men by 3% and, in first-world countries like the USA, don’t often die in childbirth anymore, we can’t have any one man hogging too MUCH of the property.  That’s just craziness.  We put a stop to that a long time ago, except for isolationist groups of… oh, right.  Extreme fundamentalist Christian sects.  Biblical Marriage.  Uh-huh.

But let’s look at some of the ways other versions of the property transfer model of marriage have translated in our society.  It was only in 1993 (yes, you read that right) that the last state in the USA removed spousal exemption from rape charges, and as of 1999, 33 of 50 states viewed spousal rape as a lesser crime.  That’s within my lifetime, y’all.  That’s fucked up.  Legally, as a culture, we still see sex as something that a woman owes her husband (the legal exemptions are rarely targeted the opposite way, but since men can be raped I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s been tried).  If you married him, you owe him sex.  Hell, if you listen to Dan Savage, also a proponent of the transactional model of human sexuality, he thinks you owe sex to a person you’re just dating, and if you don’t deliver you have no excuse to complain when they attempt to cajole, coerce, or manipulate you into it then abandon you if you don’t give in.  We construct men as the hunters and women as the hunted, men as genital archaeologists and women as gatekeepers.  If a man has sex with a woman, he’s won and she’s given it away.  Putting aside for the moment all the heteronormative cissexist assumptions of this model, it has another very glaring flaw - it prioritizes acquiring property and conquering resistance over the meaningful consent of two (or more) people.  If you’ve ‘popped a girl’s cherry’ there is a perception that you OWN some part of her that can never be retrieved.  You ‘took’ her virginity, she ‘gave’ it to you.  A transaction was conducted, and you’ve added to your high-value property.

Or let’s look at sexual harassment.  Why is it that a woman alone is easily targeted, but a woman walking with a man is usually left alone?  I have personal experience with this, and also the stories of friends who relate how when they were alone they were seen as available, as owing any random male their attention on demand.  But the minute their brother/father/boyfriend showed up, the other males backed off.  A free woman is free game, but a woman with a man is OWNED, is protected, is property.  And you don’t infringe on someone else’s property.  You see, the thing about property is this: property doesn’t need to consent.  Think of how many POC are descended from the rape of slaves, whose consent was not considered necessary, but who had to have permission from their owners to marry or choose their own mates.  Their sexuality was controlled by their owners, and the expectation of the right to that control and the expectation of the right to lesser forms of control, such as the type many women experience today, while not equal, stem from the same source.

So we can see how the property transaction model of marriage, or even just of human relationships, still persists in our society and affects the way we view men, women, and the relationships between them.  How, then, does it affect the way in which we view relationships between men and men, women and women, people who are genderqueer with people who are binary and vice versa, and people who are trans*, either binary or non-binary?  It’s fairly easy to get hold of.  We’ve labeled its manifestations ‘homophobia’ or ‘heterosexism’ but I think their roots lie in the transactional model.  Think for a moment how often oblivious straight couples demand to know “Who’s the woman” in a relationship between two men.  Think about how a gay man is expected to behave effeminately, or a lesbian woman is expected to be butch.  Think about how we insist, as a culture, that queer relationships resemble hetersexual relationships through gender-markers and power-structures.  Someone has to be the ‘man’ and someone has to be the ‘woman’ even if there’s no man, no woman, or neither man nor woman involved in the relationship!  Someone has to top, someone has to bottom.  Someone has to be seme and someone has to be uke, to borrow the egregious stereotypical terms of the yaoi genre, which is so heavily dominated by straight women.  We expect someone to be property and someone else to be the owner, and we don’t know how to handle it if they’re not.

In a culture where the relationship between property and owner as it concerns human beings has been habitually defined by two factors - gender and skin color - a same-sex or non-binary relationship violates tradition.  If two men are fucking, how can one own the other?  They’re both men!  If two women are fucking, who owns them?  Do they imagine NOBODY owns them?  How dare they!  Lesbians are subject to ‘corrective’ rape at an astronomical rate, and you’ll never convince me it has nothing to do with the transactional model, especially for lesbian POC who suffer the majority of that particular breed of violence.  Guess what else is treated like property in our society?  If you guessed ‘children’, who generally aren’t allowed full choices, bodily autonomy, or true independence until they’re considered adults, you’d be right.  You’d also be right if you answered ‘pets’ or ‘livestock’.  Wonder of wonders, those are the very parties anti-equality folks believe we’ll jump to fucking if we’re allowed to fuck someone of the same gender.  It doesn’t occur to them that the slippery slope doesn’t exist because our standard is NOT “relationships that violate the standard (transactional) model”, our standard is “who can give clear, quality consent to being in a relationship?  Well, then, let’s not restrict them!”  To them, the slippery slope exists because if you are allowed to START fucking around with the transactional model, there’s no telling how else you’ll fuck around with the transactional model.  They use polygamy as a bogeyman for their own hang-ups and insecurities, claiming we’ll allow a return to “a time when women were treated like property”, not knowing or perhaps deliberately obfuscating the fact that healthy, egalitarian polyamorous relationships exist and their existence harms no one and destabilizes nothing.  They just know that the idea of making people property scares and disgusts us - it must, because we insist on having bizarre, abnormal relationships where no one is owned, controlled, or trapped in a power imbalance.

So, to sum up, Conservatives, Traditionalists, and Anti-Equality Bigots in general don’t twig to the consent standard because they are accustomed to a model of marriage that does not involve a consent standard.  I’m not trying to say none of them practice, or care about, consent in their own personal relationships; I’m talking about what they were raised to expect, the implications of the model they were given, and how that influences what they see as ‘natural’ or ‘traditional’.  The thread of Marriage-As-Property-Transfer runs through all the heterosexist and homophobic arguments I commonly hear.  Even folks who mean well fall into that trap.  ”Who’s pitching and who’s catching?” and “Who’s the man in the relationship?” are just further manifestations of how our cissexist, heterosexist, and patriarchal cultural narratives all tie into each other to create a gigantic ball of oppressive crap that we have to work constantly to dig ourselves out from under, otherwise known as ‘intersectionality and why it’s important’.  

Do I think it’s the only objection they have to marriage equality?  No - objections run the gamut from “The Bible says it so I believe it whether or not it makes any sense whatsoever,” to “It’s GROSS therefore it shouldn’t be legal,” and a hundred creative variations in between.  But when you hear the watchwords ‘Biblical’ or ‘Traditional’, remember this is what they’re talking about - marriage as a transaction, in which human property changes hands from one owner to another.  They’re talking about a marriage in which the husband is the head of the house and the wife submits to him, and they’re acknowledging, whether they realize it or not, that that dynamic is automatically subverted when you’re allowed to have two husbands or two wives.

So...

May. 6th, 2012 07:28 pm
sonneillonv: (Default)
Witchvox published my article on gender roles in modern Paganism (emphasis on Wicca and Wicca-derived practices) after all.

... Wow.

Mar. 27th, 2012 07:39 pm
sonneillonv: (Default)
From Think Progress:

Yesterday, Forbes’ Roger Friedman asked if Fox would pull Neighborhood Watch, an action comedy about overzealous neighborhood watchmen whose vigilance turns out to be justified when they have to battle an alien invasion.

Obviously, they're asking them if they'll pull it because it has unfortunate implications in the wake of Trayvon Martin's murder, but frankly, I see unfortunate implications even outside that context. Let me break it down for you -

This 'comedy' is about overzealous WHITE men (Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn lead the line-up, though the guys in the back seat do seem to be POC) policing their neighborhood to keep out undesirable aliens.

Really?

Really?

FFS.
sonneillonv: (Default)
OMG this guy makes me blub. I so hope he goes into politics!

sonneillonv: (Hekate)
What Americans need to realize is that the values that keep the rulers of the United States from doing things like forcing children to fight each other to the death are Christian values. The values that ended the death matches in Rome were Christian values. The values that ended slavery in England were Christian values. And, the values that should be crying out against such violence in movies like THE HUNGER GAMES are Christian values.

The values that led to the Crusades were Christian values. The values that led to the Inquisition were Christian values. The values that led to the Salem Witch Trials were Christian values. The values that led to slavery were Christian values. The values that lead to anti-Islam, anti-Pagan, and anti-GLBT policies and sentiment in local governments, schools, and businesses, are Christian values. The values of those waging an anti-choice war against women are Christian values. The values that cause people to viciously attack transgender people for the heinous crime of existing in public are Christian values. The values that lead to Creationism being taught in schools but no sexual education, therefore putting our children at risk of disease, pregnancy, abuse, and other severe reproductive health problems because they have no information, are Christian values. The values that enabled the cover-up and continuance of the abuse of millions of children in both Catholic and Protestant congregations because men of God should not have to deal with the consequences of their perversions... Christian values.

Do not fucking behave like Christians have the monopoly on morality. Don't try to sell me that bullshit. I will spit it back in your face. Plenty of Christians manage to be wonderful people despite the deity-sanctioned rape, slavery, genocide, and baby-killing in their holy book. Plenty of non-Christians manage to be wonderful people, who are appalled and disgusted by the idea of sentencing children to mortal combat for entertainment purposes, without having to be told to react that way by the Christian deity or by ANY deity. I don't need Hekate, Dionysus, Persephone, or Hermes to stand over my shoulder going, "Now, this is bad, so you must not do this." I can figure that out on my own. Both my cognition and my empathy function just fine without divine intervention.

If you really believe what you're shilling, I wonder, can you say the same?
sonneillonv: (Default)
Social Progressives, or Conservative Theologicals? This article is very biased, but also very well-cited and interesting.
sonneillonv: (Kill with my gun)
Apparently, women need our own personhood amendment. Please read and sign this Change.Org petition demanding that the government protect our legal rights as if we were human beings, not just incubators.

Well...

Mar. 8th, 2012 08:58 pm
sonneillonv: (Default)
At least they can still talk about being Takei in Utah.

sonneillonv: An Ye Harm None (Harm None)
Lady Yeshe Rabbit, who has been distinguishing herself in the Pantheacon Gender Controversy by apologizing for Z's trans*phobia all over the place, actually retired from Z's lineage over the issues raised at PantheaCon. Her explanation is at the link.

Even the improvements she plans to make for her new "Pan-Dianic" coven, the Bloodroot Honey Priestess Tribe, are problematic. She still insists on believing menstrual and childbirth mysteries are the exclusive province of women, as if trans* men don't exist. But she has set herself on the path of being more inclusive, and I can only hope that she continues on that path, and gets some education on trans* issues while she's at it. I feel like this entire controversy has been one hell of an education, being alternately explained, proclaimed, and outright spat from the mouths of Z's detractors, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. When you fight for social justice on the internet, you are never guaranteed that the people standing opposite you are paying any attention to what you're saying. I would like to believe that this schism is an indication that Lady Yeshe Rabbit was paying attention, but not knowing her personally, I couldn't say how long this split has been in the making.

Regardless, it's a step in a good direction. I have very cautious optimism that we may be seeing the rumblings of a larger response.

In Brief

Mar. 6th, 2012 12:43 pm
sonneillonv: (Does Dead Flesh Good)
I said as much to another waitress at Fran's. A group of white men and their Asian girlfriends were at the table next to me. I said to my white waitress: "Doesn't it bother you when you see so many white men with Asian women? They are taking away your chances of having a husband and children." The poor girl looked bewildered, but didn't disagree with me. She continues to give me good service when I go there, so she clearly didn't mind (or find racist) what I said to her.

Dear Camera Lucida: Both this waitress, and the waiter you name earlier in your entry, exist in a customer service capacity in relation to you. They cannot disagree with you even if they disagree, because that may jeopardize their jobs in an economy which is not friendly to the unemployed. I am also forced to smile and nod my head at the various dipshit things my customers say throughout the day. I even occasionally make agreeable noises when I am wishing I could bust out a verbose rant of epic proportions and show them exactly who they're fucking with. But I'm a customer service representative, so I smile and nod, and I HATE it, because I know bigots like you will take my noncommittal attitude to mean that everyone secretly agrees with you.

Guess what. We don't. We just tolerate you, and your bullshit, because we need the money.
sonneillonv: (personal revelations)
Recently Jadelyn and I had a brief discussion on her blog about some of our lingering difficulties with masculine divinity. We were both raised Christian and converted later, and were talking about how our experiences with gender roles still affect our spirituality, especially when contrasted to the experiences of second- and third-gen Pagans who have grown up with our faith. We both hope that as Paganism ages, and as we raise more children, the emphasis on a strict gender polarity will ease and allow more images of trans* deities, gay, lesbian, and bisexual deities, and deities who shape-change with gleeful abandon.

Read More )
sonneillonv: (Default)
I hear this approximately once a week. "It's political correctness gone/run amok!" I'm fortunate that I usually hear it on TV, or on the radio, or I see it written somewhere on the internet. The people who are saying it are usually not connected to me in any way, which is good; if they were, we'd have an argument. In fact, I have had that argument repeatedly with one of my best friends. We've since resolved not to talk about it, or indeed, about anything remotely political.

The reason is this: I don't think Political Correctness Run Amok is a bad thing. Read More )
sonneillonv: (going nowhere)
Since I last posted, there has been more discussion in the Pagan blogosphere about trans* exclusion at PantheaCon. Read More )
sonneillonv: (Kill with my gun)
Every Part of You Belongs to You.

Excerpt:

She’d done what she’d heard whispered about at work in the diner, put a red kerchief on her window sill and closed the sash, just letting it hang there, and after about three days she’d noticed it was gone. In its place was a little flowerpot with a little violet sitting precariously on the ledge. She’d found the packet with the pills and the paper inside the dirt, under the roots, and almost wept with relief.

Now, she waited for something to happen. Maybe the cops would come. Maybe it was all a set-up. Her kids slept on. She could hear her upstairs neighbor kick on his video game machine and load some game with a lot of machine guns.

There was a knock at her door, and Rachel felt her heart almost stutter. She plodded to the door. Maybe she could just ignore it and it would all go away. She was in the process of reaching for the doorknob when she was seized with a cramp and she had to freeze, suck in a breath. No, there was no going back, not since she’d swallowed a few pills the day before.

She swung the door open and was grabbed by the arms before she could even say anything.

“This won’t take long,” someone hissed in her ear. “We love you. Every part of you belongs to you.”
sonneillonv: (Hekate)
[Content Note: Transphobia]

Some of you may remember that last year at PantheaCon there was a bit of a dust-up: Z. Budapest, a great feminist leader of Dianic paganism, held a women-only circle that was advertised as being for all women, to celebrate the diversity of femininity. Trans* women were turned away at the door.

Lots of talking happened afterward. CAYA held a conference to discuss trans* inclusion in pagan rituals, an anthology was published as a result (I was never able to fully endorse this conference because I never got an answer about how many Trans* people were invited to attend and speak as authorities on their own experience). This year, PantheaCon chose "Unity and Diversity" as their theme, and Z. Budapest attended again. Her only contribution? A Dianic ritual circle "For Genetic Women Only".

There is not enough desk for the amount of head-desking I am doing. Continued Under Cut )

ETA: Edited for preferred terminology and to reflect that the words 'trans' and 'cis' are adjectives, not prefixes
sonneillonv: (Default)
I know I don't have to tell most of you how rules against cross-gender dressing in schools enable the bullying of trans* kids. Jadelyn has the scoop.
sonneillonv: (Default)
Recently, a man whose blog I read, whom I respect, but don't know quite well enough to claim friendship with, wrote about his experience being smacked in the face with his neighbor's unexamined racism. I commented on his entry, basically apologizing that he can't trust white people, because we smack POC upside the head with our unexamined privilege whenever we get the opportunity, and even those of us who are trying really hard to examine and dismantle that privilege screw up and make it hard to trust us. He responded with thanks for my honesty, and appreciation for a call to 'a higher level of integrity'. I started writing a response, but it got long (as my responses tend to do) so I decided to move it here.To Teo )

Horrible.

Feb. 10th, 2012 03:11 pm
sonneillonv: (Default)
Trigger warnings apply for violence, for violent response to exercising free speech, for patriarchy, and for firearms.



I am currently trying to explain via facebook why this is horrible and terrifying, and why I feel for the girl who wrote this letter to her father. Don't read the comments, they're equally horrible. That letter speaks to me of a strident power imbalance, of feeling like a slave in your own home, of being expected to perform and obey at the drop of the hat with no say in your own labor. It speaks to me of a master/servant relationship. This girl felt so much frustration that she had to vent about it to her friends, from whom (I assume) she felt she would receive some sympathy and emotional support. She felt she had to do this because clearly she did not feel she could trust her parents to respect her disagreements or treat her with justice. And her father responded to this by taking her laptop, her method of communication with that support system, her vehicle for free speech, and shooting it with .45 caliber 'exploding hollow-point rounds'.

How many times do I have to freaking say it?

CHILDREN ARE HUMAN BEINGS.

They are not little automatons whose job it is to follow you around and worship you constantly. They are not unthinking, unspeaking hollow men with no will of their own and no desire except to fulfill your will. They are PEOPLE, for fuck's sake. People have personalities. People have their own desires and interests. People will not always do what you want them to do. It is not proportionate to react to a child displaying any of these qualities with violence or destruction of their property. If this man had done this to his daughter just a couple of years later he'd be put in prison, but since she's (presumably) underage, it's totally acceptable under the law?

I am a parent. If I'd found Jake had posted something like this on facebook, I'd have sat him down and said, "I found this rant you posted on facebook. I'm concerned for a couple reasons: A) you clearly don't feel like you're being treated fairly in our house, and you don't feel like we appreciate or value your labor, so obviously we need to work on that, because we love you and you're a valued member of our family. B) you just as clearly didn't feel like you could trust us to respect your grievances if you talked to us about this personally. Why not? How can we change that?" And once we've gotten through that, I would have asked the most important question: "What changes would you like to see going forward? Is there a way we can help alleviate the way you feel your chores are encroaching on your schoolwork? Is there a better way to distribute your responsibilities so you're getting the rest you need? (Teenagers need more sleep per day to function at optimal capacity than what this girl is getting) What do you feel is missing from your daily routine (off-time? Worship time? Time with friends? All of these are important for a person's psychological health), and how can we adjust things to make sure you have time for these things? What are your goals (she spoke of her schoolwork, so it seems like this is important to her, or at least it's an issue her parents care about and she feels she is not being given enough time or opportunity to live up to their expectations) academically, athletically, socially, and what would help you achieve those goals?"

This doesn't mean we have to tailor our lives around our child's desires, but opening a forum for discussion, LISTENING to him and considering his input, being willing to place some importance on the things that are important to him, would probably help solve this problem in a much more constructive way than putting a full clip through his laptop. Just saying.
sonneillonv: (Default)
Kate Pickett explains why income equality is a good thing for all of us, rich and poor.

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