Taking Back the Bi – reflections on a post

Aoife O’Riordan has written one of the best things I’ve ever read about being bisexual and the political importance of the word. Go read it – it’s a must.

My own reactions to the post are:

1/ That I don’t associate myself with the words queer and pan, and haven’t encountered much of those communities at all and thus haven’t seen the hatred against the term bisexual from that angle.

2/ That I’ve not exclusively attributed the meaning “falling for both men and women exclusively”, where men and women are assumed to be cis, to the term bisexual. My knowledge of trans* issues, while far from perfect and complete, ’cause yes, I’ve fucked up around this before, has grown alongside my feminism and my bisexual identity. So I see no reason why the label bisexual would exclude falling for a trans* or genderqueer person, assuming the person concerned has recognised and begun to deal with their transphobia.

3/ Regarding the phrase “I don’t see gender” – yes it’s highly obnoxious. Aoife compares it to saying “I don’t see race”. That’s a phrase I’ve only ever seen used online but from the context I assume it’s really common state-side from people that think they’re being progressive. I’ve read it instinctively as “I *refuse* to acknowledge that I certainly carry racist ideas and stereotypes in my head and act accordingly”. You don’t get to exist in our (UK/USA/White European-derived) societies without carrying racist stereotypes and ideas. It makes me uncomfortable every time I realise I’ve just run into another racist stereotype in my mind, but there it is. You don’t make it go away by pretending it’s not happening. Instead, you note it and challenge it and do your best to act as if you thought otherwise. I also strongly encourage reading about subconscious stereotypes and stereotype threat – learning about these things opened my eyes.

3.2/

“the idea that physical attraction is somehow less valid than, or exclusive of, attraction to someone as a person is the height of sex-shaming. There is nothing shallow or meaningless about being physically attracted to people. And being physically attracted to someone doesn’t mean for a second that you can’t fancy the hell out of their brains as well.”

Gold. Pure gold. Continue reading

Authorship and Voice

In writing the first chapter of my Thesis I decided it would be a good idea to read a few books about how to write a good thesis. A lot of the books cover only the basics – IMRAD structure, how to produce informative clear graphs, how to do a literature review etc. Now I could improve in all these things but none of them were new concepts. Apart from one new idea in one book, “Surviving Your Dissertation” (2nd Ed. Rudeston and Newton) which concerned authorship, Voice and their importance to the writing process.

So what are they and why are they important?

Authorship is the confident ownership of your written words. Voice meanwhile is Continue reading

Dowton Abbey Rape Storyline – a Response from ITV and my Takedown of It

Further to the post I wrote earlier this week about the Downton Abbey Rape Storyline, I contacted ITV and Ofcom and have received a response from ITV. I will not say apology because it is the worst excuse for an apology I have seen in a long time! I am absolutely furious! And in the middle of composing a scathing email in response. I thought I would share their response with you here, because I have had a number of hits looking for “Downton Abbey rape” so I know there are people out there who are concerned and likely upset by it. I know I am.

So, Trigger Warning for rape and rape apologism, although if you’re searching for this, I expect you already know what you’re getting into. There are no graphic descriptions but feelings may abound. Seriously, take care of yourself. This is me taking care of my self by ranting in a public forum but only you know what you need. Everything else is below the cut. Continue reading

Disney Femininity and its Many Contradictions

I re-watched my two all-time favourite Disney films, Beauty and the Beast and Pocahontas, recently as light entertainment whilst moving house. The songs are still as good as they were when I was six but this time I paid attention to what the pictures were saying alongside the words, and I realised just where certain of my understandings of femininity and masculinity had come from. Things made a lot more sense and other things were troubling and I wanted to share my review with you to see what you think.

I’ll start by saying that I’ve always looked up to Belle and Pocahontas. I loved their stories enough that I’ve read various takes on the originals. I had Barbie dolls of both of them and I remember thinking that I would name my first daughter Pocahontas, I wanted to be her so badly. They’re good people, strong, independent women, who know how to use their brains and their voices, who will fight to protect the people they love. They bring out the best in people and they’re not afraid to sacrifice themselves to save those they love.

Pocahontas and Meeko canoe ride

Wooo yeah! The freedom that I love.

Others say that Disney is all about the pretty dresses and having a man rescue the heroine at the end, but I think they’ve missed something else. I’m not saying that Disney didn’t tone down the original La Belle and le Bête fairytale nor completely mess up Pocahontas‘s story (you can find other stuff on Wikipedia – usual caveats apply), and made the lead women less than they were, but enough of their original character got through to make the point that you didn’t just have to be a pretty face.

Continue reading

Feminism Shouldn’t be a Dirty Word!

Well fuck me, my best friend, who I assumed would be a feminist, and in fact is, if you ask her about her beliefs, refuses to use the word.

She’s all for “equality” but not for “feminism”, apparently.

Because women's representation text

‘We are still part of the women’s liberation movement’ – Katharine Terrell 2009 (C)

To me, feminism is about gender equality, about fighting the systematic oppression enacted through social structures that have been in place for centuries. It’s about fighting the attitude that women and femininity are lesser than men and masculinity these social structures use as justification for their treatment of women. It’s about women having: political representation, equal pay for equal work, the right to do meaningful work outside the home and to have their contributions within the home recognised – financially, if at all possible. It’s the right to be educated to the same degree as men, and to reach the upper echelons of our chosen fields without undue hindrance. It’s the right to control our own bodies, particularly in regards to who we choose to have sex with, how we prevent pregnancy and how we deal with unwanted pregnancies. It’s in the fight to be able to walk down the street without fear of harassment, assault, abduction or rape. It’s in making society aware that most rapes occur within the home by people we know, and that we can still be raped even if we are not sober paragons of virtue. It’s in the struggle to dress and act how we want without someone calling us a bitch or a skank or a prude. It’s about having our sexual agency recognised and respected – whether that’s in making or watching porn, participating in non-coerced sex work, or just not judging us for how many people we’ve slept with. It’s in our desire to dress as femininely as we want, or not, without consequences for our reputations. It’s about being able to watch mainstream films and TV where the lead is a woman, supported by her female friends, who doesn’t have to be rescued or fall in love at the end. It’s about wanting to watch media that doesn’t shame us for not meeting some unrealistic beauty standard, so that eating disorders don’t continue to rise. And this list? Is just the tip of the iceberg.

Feminism about these things alone however is bullshit. White, middle-class, straight, abled bullshit. Feminism needs to account for the effects of racism, poverty, homophobia, and disability amongst other things, because being affected by any one of these things in addition to existing while female makes life a hundred times more difficult. Go read Flavia Dzodan’s post on intersectionality at Tiger BeatDown for more on why this is vital. In fact, go read everything by her.

Back to the problem as far as my friend is concerned? To too many people, feminism equals man-hating, hairy dyke. Also, apparently the pendulum has swung too far the other way, such that men are disadvantaged in certain areas because women’s rights have progressed “too far”. Her example was that it’s easy for a woman to prosecute a man for sexual harassment at work but not for a man to prosecute a woman for sexual harassment at work. Continue reading