29 December, 2016

A Minefield Tribute

"...a case of political correctness spun way out of control."
 - metro.co.uk on Steve Martin's tribute to Carrie Fisher

I support equality of the sexes, racial diversity, and gender and sexual minorities. I feel like that makes me progressive. But I am also a staunch defender of free speech. If you say something insulting or offensive, you are bound to receive criticism. Nobody is immune to that (unless you're in one of those "progressive" safe spaces, ironically). But there's a fine line between that and shouting people down to the point that the public becomes afraid to even talk about certain subjects, and express honest feelings without ill intent. It may not technically be "censorship" (until such time as it actually becomes illegal to be an asshole), but it is a chilling effect that is nearly as effective (more so, in the sense that people tend to over-censor themselves, without a clear guideline as to what is and is not permitted) at stifling the open communication of diverse perspectives.

Women are more than their appearance. By golly, they're human beings! But I'd be terrified to live in a world where we're not allowed to comment on a woman's appearance - even respectfully. I get that women are disproportionately judged on their appearance (compared to men) over other, non-physical qualities. We should indeed be working toward leveling that playing field. But there is nothing shameful about being publicly acknowledged as a "sex symbol", unless you're still clinging to conservative notions of moral purity, which fly in the face of human nature (as the reliable juxtaposition of prudishness and perversity apparent in religious and political leaders ably demonstrates), and contributes to the very stigma that makes sex workers' lives more miserable than they need to be. If sex-positivity is neither conservative nor liberal, then what exactly is it?

"Please be better than Jabba the Hutt."

Honestly, the fact that people are talking about this makes me like Jabba the Hutt a little bit more (although, disgusting as he is, I've always thought he was a cool villain). And let me tell you, I think this is a LARGE part of the reason why so many people like Trump. He's not a great poster child for the free speech movement (and there's plenty of room to argue the space between his public image and his true motives), but it often takes a doofus like him to dare to "sully" his reputation among progressives, who demand that allies fall in line with their ultra-PC mindset, at the risk of being labelled sexist or racist or whatnot (one of the pitfalls of wanting to please everyone). It bugs me that people are so caught up in this "us vs. them" rivalry, that they don't realize the flaws and virtues in each other's positions. They need to join together - consolidating the good, while dumping the bad - to form one perfect super-party.

It makes it hard for me to place myself on the spectrum. (I could call myself Libertarian, but is that actually conservative or progressive? Not easy to say). I guess you could call me a "Wonder Woman feminist" - someone who believes that a woman can be sexy and strong (and/or smart), and that her sex appeal doesn't diminish her other qualities.

P.S. Just saw this bikini, and damn! I wish I were a girl, so I could wear it...


  1. Firstly I find your association of political ideologies with stances on sexual politics intriguing, although ultimately I'd argue it's incorrect to do so. There's no particular political ideology that goes along with any particular stance on sexuality. Many strong, conservative Christian women still support womens' rights, there are whole caucuses of gay Republicans, and there are all kind of liberal misogynists.

    I'm chest deep in the Progressive movement and I virtually never see any of the PC talk you're prescribing to us. Cenk Ugyur, one of the most prominent Progressives in the world, actually often comes out on the opposite end of things (for example, when a hot 30 year old female teacher sleeps with a 14 year old student, he's not against it.) I do definitely know exactly the kind of PC talk you're referring to but I see that less in any genuine political realm and more often I see it mainly in the popular realm: especially among celebrities and on social media.

    Secondly, I very much agree with you that sexual politics and indeed feminism itself has become a muddled mess almost to the point of being completely meaningless. Third Wavers like myself are more likely to be in your camp of sexiness being empowerment and that it's okay to be sexy and own your sexiness. In my Women's Studies class for example, we all were pretty much in unanimous agreement that prostitution should be legal.

    But the Third Wave seems to have given way to some sort of fourth wave, the Tumblr Wave you could call it, where people frankly seem to be interested in outrage for the sake of outrage. It's a very reactionary, low-intellect branch of feminism that easily does far more harm than good, souring the whole movement for a lot of people. I'm lucky enough not to have to deal with those people, but I imagine you probably do since you're probably involved in more branches of social media than I am.

    Thirdly, I... did you just say you wouldn't wear that bikini?? I'd ponder if maybe you're trying to hide something from readers of this blog but then I can't imagine who you'd be trying to hide from considering some of the photos of you that are on Facebook.

    As for you being a Libertarian, that does make some good sense on an ideological level. I was a registered Libertarian until this most recent election. Unfortunately the Libertarian party and the Libertarian ideals aren't very much aligned, with the Libertarian Party as often as not having become just an arm of Big Business's agenda to scam more poor people. But I'd still vote Libertarian over almost any Republican or Democrat, since all three are unified in their desire to fuck poor people over and only the Libertarians have any notable upsides.

  2. 1) I have no choice but to align political ideologies with approaches toward sexuality - because that's what's important to me. But you're right - it's a futile effort, and it's infuriating, because everybody hates sexuality equally across the board. The conservatives think it's a sin, the liberals think it's degrading, and the progressives insist on bending over backwards not to be "too" extreme (once upon a time, the gay agenda was aligned with pedophiles, until they realized they could gain acceptance faster by dropping the "love is love" angle for "gay people are just like straights").

    Yeah, there are true sexual progressives out there, but they don't have a platform. They don't have political power. If I want the laws on sex to change, I have no recourse in the system. Who am I supposed to vote for? (Besides a fringe candidate who has zero chance of winning). I'm not going to vote for someone who's just going to continue cracking down on pornographers, prostitution (now called "sex trafficking" to garner support among gullible wannabe-heros) and sex offenders.

    2) I, too, like the Libertarian ideology in theory (with the emphasis on "liberty", it's what I had originally and falsely assumed "liberals" to be), but am reluctant to align myself with any organized group. As Ayn Rand said, the smallest minority is the individual. As soon as you throw in with a group (any group), you're sacrificing your individuality, if even just a little bit. But though I agree with the Libertarian stance on social liberties, economically, I'm an unabashed socialist.

    Though, the thing with socialism is, people associate it with fascist pseudo-Communism. I believe that people should be provided a base standard of living (including health care), with opportunities to work above and beyond the call of duty for extra privileges (incentive pay or whatever). But I still believe staunchly in individualism. Just because some percent of property or services is collectively owned does NOT mean that everybody has to look and act the same...

    But I guess that's a whole different debate.

  3. 3) I'm glad you commented about the bikini, since I had a whole response worked out for it, lol. I would definitely wear it, but there's a difference between something I *would* wear, and something I *could* wear. (I talk about this a lot on my "outfit of the day" and "try this on for size" posts on my other blog). Here's the problem with that bikini: I have too much bulge in the bottom, and not enough bulge in the top. In a perfect world, I wouldn't even care. But we don't live in a perfect world, and I've learned that I have to acquiesce (to some extent) to community standards; otherwise I'd be walking the streets naked (and it wouldn't be long before I'd end up in jail, a la "The Naked Rambler").

    Too much bulge on the bottom could potentially make the swimsuit legally indecent on me (as these garments are designed for a woman's flat contours, and thus too much bulge could prevent the suit from sitting flush against my skin along the edges, leading to a dangerous peekaboo situation, in the absence of any kind of undergarments, as swimsuits are meant to be worn), and I don't want to run the risk of having to register as a sex offender just because I wanted to go swimming at the local pool.

    Meanwhile, not enough bulge on the top means that I wouldn't look as good in the suit as the model does - and I know women have this problem, too, but in my case, even though I'm attractive, my body's not designed the way a woman's is designed; the flat chest emphasizes my broad shoulders (something that most flat-chested women *don't* have), further hammering home the fact that I am not biologically female, which would contribute to the possibility of social - if not outright legal - ostracism.

    I have a hard enough time as it is deciding which restroom to use in the event that I have to "go". Walking into the men's room in a bikini is just begging for harrassment if not physical violence, while walking into the women's room as an *obvious* male risks landing me on a draconian registry. I swear, the things that gender-nonconformers have to put up with...

  4. 4) I don't interact with real people in the real world much, but I see this PC bullshit all over the internet. If somebody doesn't like a t-shirt some store sells, for example, instead of simply not shopping there, they have to petition the store to get them to stop selling the shirt so that other people with different opinions don't even have the option of buying it. It's a reduction of liberty for the maximization of "safety". It's the FCC approach, bolstered by a victim mentality. And just like feminism has been perverted, so too has the concept of social justice (which I think is a great idea - but not the way the tumblr "SJWs" approach it).

    Here's a perfect anecdote: I followed the atheist community for a little while. I was around when "atheism+" was invented. The idea of it was atheism plus social justice - the concept that social justice issues should be approached via logic and reason (not tradition and faith). As a supporter of the separation of church and state, I was all in favor of it. But quickly it devolved into a "safe space" for myriad minorities to coexist - not in an environment of good will and open debate, but one filled with fear of saying anything that could be deemed offensive. I'm one of the most sensitive people in the world, but this is not how sensitivity should be used. As usual, the first link to snap in these situations is sex, and as a sex-positive, I absolutely did not feel welcome. "Uh, no, you can't talk about that erotic video because it might trigger flashbacks for someone who was raped."

    Another, more recent example. I read about a case where the discussion of cultural appropriation in Halloween costumes resulted in a freethinking professor losing her job, due to "public outrage". Whether "indian" costumes are insensitive to Native Americans is a question worth discussing. But this professor lost her job because she dared to question the accepted conclusion, even though she did it in a respectful way! But a bunch of students rose up and said, "our feelings are being hurt!" (I don't even think they were Native American), and the authorities acquiesced (because loss prevention and all that). That's the world we live in.

    I was pleased to read a couple years ago (http://pleasuresarethese.blogspot.com/2014/04/trigger-warnings-inhibit-education.html) that a particular college had come down in opposition to the concept of "trigger warnings", which stifle debate and "baby" adults who need to learn how to confront issues that make them uncomfortable. Which is important in an environment dedicated to critical thinking. But I wonder how long that's going to last, now that the "progressive" approach is to put a clamp on the freedom of speech, for the sake of appeasing disenfranchised minorities. The intentions are good, but the road we're paving is headed straight for Hell. The naked anthropologist (http://www.lauraagustin.com/) has written all about the phenomenon of white "knights" bolstering their own self-esteem by marginalizing global sex workers under the delusion of "rescuing" sex "slaves". It's a grand illusion.