“Like the fantasy of being thin, the desire to be pretty is backed by a multi-billion dollar industry and untold numbers of daily encounters with people who’ve swallowed the social pressures whole and made them their own mission to prescribe. Girls who desire a piece of the pretty pie aren’t misguided, inherently frivolous or lacking in ambition. They want to do stuff; it’s just they’ve internalised the message that they must look good doing it for it to count for anything. And that is why the right to be ugly — the right to do and be without being gazed upon and always found wanting — is worth defending.”—
Sex is no more an immutable binary than is gender. There are intersex people who are born with non-binary genitalia, as I have already mentioned. There are people with hormonal anomalies. In fact, hormone levels vary wildly within the categories of cis male and cis female. Chromosomes, too, vary. If you thought “XX” and “XY” were the only two possible combinations, you have some serious googling to do. In addition to variations like XXY, XXYY, or X, sometimes cis people find out that they are genetically the “opposite” of what they though they were– that is, a ‘typical’ cis man can be XX, a ‘normal’ cis woman can be XY.
The fact is that the concept of binary sex is based on the fallacious idea that multiple sex characteristics are immutable and must always go together, when in fact many of them can be changed, many erased, and many appear independently in different combinations. “Female” in sex binary terms means having breasts, having a vagina, having a womb, not having a lot of body hair, having a high-pitched voice, having lots of estrogen, having a period, having XX chromosomes. “Male” means having a penis, not having breasts, producing sperm, having body hair, having a deep voice, having lots of testosterone, having XY chromosomes. Yet it is possible to isolate, alter, and remove many of these traits. Many of these traits do not always appear together, and before puberty and after menopause, many of them do not apply.
Family planning initiatives in the Deep South in the 1950s encouraged women of color (predominantly African American women) to use contraceptives and sterilizations to reduce the growth of our populations, while obstacles were simultaneously placed in the paths of white women seeking access to these same services. A Louisiana judge„ Leander Perez, was quoted as saying, “The best way to hate a nigger is to hate him before he is born.” This astonishingly frank outburst represented the sentiments of many racists during this period, although the more temperate ones disavowed gutter epithets.
For example, conservative politicians like Strom Thurmond supported family planning in the 1960s when it was used as a racialized form of population control, aimed at limiting Black voter strength in African American communities. When it was presented as a race-directed strategy to reduce their Black populations, North Carolina and South Carolina became the first states to include family planning in their state budgets in the 1950s. One center in Louisiana reported that in its first year of operation, 96% of its clients were Black. The proportion of white clients never rose about 15%. Generally speaking, family planning associated with women of color was most frequently supported; but support quickly evaporated when it was associated with white women.
Increased federal spending on contraception coincided with the urban unrest and rise in a militant Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. In 1969, President Nixon asked Congress to establish a five-year plan for providing family planning services to “all those who want them but cannot afford them.” However, the rational behind the proposed policy was to prevent population increases among Blacks—-this would make governance of the world in general, and inner cities in particular, difficult. Reflecting on concerns strikingly similar to those driving US population policies overseas, Nixon pointed to statistics that showed a “bulge” in the number of Black Americans between the ages of five and nine. This group of youngsters who would soon enter their teens—“an age group with problems that create social turbulence”—was 25% larger than ten years before. This scarcely disguised race- and class-based appeal for population control persuaded many Republicans to support family planning.
Loretta Ross, White Supremacy and Reproductive Justice, in Color of Violence: The INCITE! Anthology
A lot of progressives like to go around talking about the radicalization of the right around abortion issues. While it’s true that anti-choice extremism has become more mainstreamed, the repeated efforts to prove this fact specifically by pointing to how Republicans like Nixon and Bush Sr. promoted birth control use without noting WHY and TO WHAT EXTENT they were pro-contraception is extraordinarily racist and a violent erasure of the sterilization and population control policies used against women of color, as well as poor women and women with disabilities. It’s also yet another sign of what is so very fucked about so much of the pro-choice movement. (via thecurvature)
“Some problems we share as women, some we do not. You [white women] fear your children will grow up to join the patriarchy and testify against you; we fear our children will be dragged from a car and shot down in the street, and you will turn your backs on the reasons they are dying.”—
“In a one‐track quest to convince women not to choose abortion, anti‐choice advocates at crisis pregnancy centers may even advise women to take measures that are dangerous to their health and safety. In 12th & Delaware (documentary) a young mother of two tells a CPC counselor that she is considering abortion because her boyfriend is abusive and she needs to do what is best for her children. The counselor protests, arguing “for all you know, the baby changes him.” Suggesting a woman remain in an abusive relationship reveals that, to this counselor, women’s health and safety are hardly even afterthoughts.”—
Being pregnant makes it more difficult to leave an abusive relationship, especially if the victim is financially (and emotionally and physically) dependent on their abuser, as is common. Pregnancy in an abusive relationship often escalates the danger to the victim, and increases their risk of being murdered. A person who abuses their partner is likely to abuse their child, too.
“It is doubtless many of these women took advantage too, congregating near U.S. military bases and choosing attach themselves to U.S. soldiers. The dynamic was, however, inherently and overwhelmingly unequal. On the one hand, a woman at the mercy of an unstable government in a war-torn country, facing starvation, forced prostitution and possibly death as a casualty of war. On the other hand, an American service man with a gun, a steady paycheck and the promise of protection, liberation and a better life.
[…] Modern American culture has added insult to this widespread injury by not only failing to chastise American men for this behavior, but celebrating it as suggestive of American virility and perpetuating the meme of the exotic, sexually permissive Asian woman in pop culture. From Miss Saigon to Memoirs of a Geisha to Lucy Liu dressed as a masseuse in Charlie’s Angels, Asian women are rarely represented as having any agency or choice. Their willingness – even eagerness – to be sexualized and sexually dominated is continually portrayed as their most common and most admirable characteristic. It’s as though they spent 40 years raping us and the last 30 talking about how much we enjoyed it. This particular form of racism has myriad consequences for Asian-American women. A significant amount of the attention we receive from non-Asian men is in the form of creepy, excessive enthusiasm.
[…] Then there is the offensive assumption that anyone who is half Asian is the product of an American GI and an Asian woman he met standing on the corner saying “me love you long time.” And then of course there is the fact of being overwhelmingly underrepresented in every single industry except porn.”
“The most widely taught [abstinence-only] course is called “Sex Respect,” which has been purchased by approximately two thousand school districts nationwide. The text states that “There’s no way to have premarital sex without hurting someone,” and in an accompanying video a student asks, “What if I want to have sex before I get married?” The instructor replies, “Well, I guess you’ll just have to be prepared to die. And you’ll probably take with you your spouse and one or more of your children.” Abortion is referred to only as “killing the baby.” In the narratives presented in “Sex Respect,” premarital sex always leads to pregnancy or disease; there is no mention of contraceptives or abortion. Even in the best-case scenario, the curriculum says, premarital sex will cause severe emotional pain (“There’s no condom strong enough to protect my heart”). Other abstinence-only curricula exaggerate the failure rate of condoms and suggest that after sex when a condom is used, the genitals should be washed with Lysol.”—
Excerpted from “Slut!” by Leora Tanenbaum (2000). Reading this book has depressed the hell out of me. (via magneticwave)
Certain portions of my anatomy just clenched up in distress.
It’s smart of them really—they’re raising a generation of people who don’t know jackshit about sexuality, or rights related to it, and just hoping to kill off all the non-nutso-abstinence-Christian folk.
“For many poor women and women of color, sexual, emotional, and physical abuse early in life can lie at the root of an addiction that leads to a drug-related charge. In addition, male violence and coercion is often implicated in the lives of women incarcerated for a range of criminalized acts, from drug importation to prostitution. If feminist activists do not embrace a politics of prison abolitionism, their demands for exceptional treatment for a handful of cases do not speak to the majority of women prisoners who are the survivors of violence. In many cases, resources that are racialized or class-based determine whether a woman will deal with violence in “law-abiding” ways (for example, get a prescription for anti-depressants or other legal pharmaceuticals, call the police, take out a restraining order, find a new home) or ways which come into conflict with the criminal justice system (for example, use illegal substances, be coerced into prostitution or drug dealing, use physical violence). Without a general campaign to release all women prisoners, speaking for this “innocent” minority limits the politics of antiviolence, cutting it off from its revolutionary potential.”—Julia Sudbury, Rethinking Antiviolence Strategies: Lessons from the Black Women’s Movement in Britian, in Color of Violence: The INCITE! Anthology (via thecurvature)
“In those days white women who were unwilling to face the reality of racism and racial differences accused us of being traitors by introducing race. Wrongly they saw us as deflecting focus away from gender. In reality, we were demanding that we look at the status of females realistically, and that realistic understanding serve as the foundation for a real feminist politic. Our intent was not to diminish the vision of sisterhood. We sought to put in place a concrete politic of solidarity that would make genuine sisterhood possible. We knew that there could be no real sisterhood between white women and women of color if white women were not able to divest of white supremacy, if feminist movement was not fundamentally anti-racist.”—bell hooks in Feminism is for Everybody (pg. 57-58)
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve found the courage to speak about what happened to me when I was younger only to hear “…you know you should’ve reported that, right?” or “so you didn’t say anything? what’s wrong with you?” or “well maybe if you had done X or Y or Z he’d be in jail right now and you wouldn’t even be talking about it.”
Do you not realize how vile it is to criticize someone for the way they respond to one of the most heinous events they’ll ever live through? Do you not understand that most survivors (and most people period) already blame the survivors for what happened to them? Do you not understand that policing how they respond to an unwarranted act of physical, mental, psychological, emotional violence does nothing but further encroach upon the survivor’s rights?
It is up to that person—and that person alone—to decide how to go about healing. And if that means therapy, so be it. If that means cussing out the perpetrator on their Facebook wall, so be it. If it means collaborating with the perpetrator on a song, then SO. FUCKING. BE. IT.
Maybe that’s not the path you think you would have chosen, but unless you are that particular survivor, you will never know for a fact what you would have done because you will never be in that same position.
Until it is your body that has been violated, your psyche that has been damaged, you have absolutely no place to speak on what victims/survivors should do in response to the events that change their lives forever.
It is rude, arrogant, self-serving, patronizing, condescending, and just plain wrong.
“Though no one would ever think of using the term honor violence (we reserve that descriptor for brown people who live somewhere else, motivated by religious something-or-other or tribal something-or-other), one-third of women murdered every year in the United States are killed by their intimate partners. In 2005 that amounted to 1,181 women, or three women every day. To put that in perspective, the UN estimates there are 5,000 honor killings every year in the entire world. 5,000 in a world of 6 billion versus nearly 1,200 in a single country of 300 million. In other words, a woman in America runs a greater risk of being killed by her husband or boyfriend than a woman in Pakistan.”—
“I don’t care how much sex anyone has, how often they do it, or who they do it with. I’m much more interested in the consent, pleasure, and well-being of the participants and the people affected by it. I respect women who are asexual, celibate, monogamous, multi-partnered, or have had more partners than they can recall. I respect women who only have sex after a commitment to monogamy and those who have sex with someone within minutes of meeting them. I respect women who have transactional sex, women who have sex for love, or for any other reason. I know that all of these categories are permeable and that many women move from one to another. And I know that any of these decisions can be made from a place of personal power, choice, and authenticity, as well as from a place of coercion, shame, and disempowerment.”—Charlie Glickman (If You Don’t Respect Sluts, You Don’t Respect Women)
“When we complain about men raping, abusing, harassing, and refusing us our human rights, and you come back angrily with “But some men aren’t like that! How dare you imply that I might be like that.” Do you not think that the problem might come from the very fact that you are angry at … us for complaining, rather than angry at your fellow boys and men for this enduring misogyny? Instead of being furious that we point out that many men do act this way - including men these women trust completely - be angry that there are men that will treat your mother, sister, daughter, friend, girlfriend badly purely because they are female. Not only that but they are giving you a bad name, not us.”—
To those who mistakenly believe that we are, I offer this alternative perspective: The entire rest of the world, with its privileging of men, and heterosexual and cisgender people, and thin (but not too thin!) and tall (but not too tall!) and able white bodies with neurotypical minds, and religious people and people who have sex (but only in certain ways!) and people who can and want to be parents and the wealthy and the educated and the employed and the powerful and residents of the Western and Northern hemispheres, and all the ways in which most of the rest of the world facilitates and upholds that privilege, and all the ways in which the rest of the world marginalizes and demeans and treats as less than all the people who deviate from those privileged “norms,” and all the ways the rest of the world has indoctrinated you into that system of privilege, and socialized you to believe it’s the natural and right and immutable state of the world, and all the shills for the kyriarchy who fill the ether with self-reinforcing rubbish on a constant loop so you swim in a sea so thick with the detritus of Othering that you don’t even notice it on a conscious level anymore, and all the jack-booted bullies who swarm out of the woodwork to kick you back in line if you do notice and dare to protest, if you have the temerity to question the message, and all the other bits and bobs of the brainwashing to which we are all subjected since the day we’re born as part of the scheme, nearly incomprehensible in scope, to ensure that challengers to these traditions are never made, and, if they’re born, are squashed with the weight of mountainous tidal waves of blowback in the other direction…? The purveyors of that shit are the goddamn thought police.
And you know what one of the biggest lies they tell you is?
“Every woman has a well-stocked arsenal of anger potentially useful against those oppressions, personal and institutional, which brought that anger into being. Focused with precision it can become a powerful source of energy serving progress and change. And when I speak of change, I do not mean a simple switch of positions or a temporary lessening on tensions, nor the ability to smile or feel good. I am speaking of a basic and radical alteration in those assumption underlining out lives.”—Audre Lorde, “The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism” (via so-treu)
“Activism does not need to be some kind of organized ‘against’ protest. When my students say they want to change the world, I espouse an inward to outward movement.If you feel that you can’t do shit about your own reality, how can you really think you could change the world? And guess what? When you’re fucked up and you lead the revolution, you are probably going to get a pretty fucked up revolution.”—bell hooks (via radicalsexeducation)