Friday, 22 January 2010

More on anger...

This is really just a continuation of the last "My, that was angry, huh..." post, but I did want to include it because I'm blackly amused, and I promised I wouldn't comment more there.

Person A mentions that yes, sometimes "anti-kink stigma" is more than a mild thing:

Bean said on Please, somebody, come and defend Kink.com. I triple-dog dare you.
February 7, 2009 at 1:18 am

The reason I don’t feel defensive when anyone critiques or even flatly condemns kink from a supposed radical feminist perspective is that to me it seems like anti-kink radfems = just about zero sociopolitical clout and pro-kink kinksters = carrying the day.

And I live in a country which has a long, long history of censoring queer and kinky literature/media and justifying it with obscenity law based in part on the writings of radical feminists.

Thank you, try again.

And Joan Kelly, whose anger I commented on in the other post, flips the fuck out, half amusingly and half scarily:

Joan Kelly said on Please, somebody, come and defend Kink.com. I triple-dog dare you.
February 7, 2009 at 1:18 am

And *I* live in a country where billboards in high traffic areas (one of the poshest portions of the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, California) depict male models as being in the act of over-the-knee spanking fenale models. This ad was for clothing. It is not unusual. It is mainstreamed in all kinds of ways here.

So take your references to Canadian court decisions on PORNOGRAPHY – not the sex people are having – and also take your misplaced condescenion, and go fuck yourself with both. Thank YOU.

See all comments on this post here.

Uh... so let me see if I understand this (I already know that I don't, but):

"Someone brought up a highly salient point about how anti-pornography legislation has been used to censor queers, and...

...that's off-point because there are pretentious artsy-fartsy billboard ads in California depicting OTK.

Also, I'm really angry and dropped an f-bomb, so I must be right."

Fascinating.

I can't tell whether this is ridiculous US-centrism or just Bizarro World.

My money's on Bizarro World, though.

Really, how can these people lament that they lack credence in the larger society when they adamantly refuse to make any fucking sense?

23 comments:

Bean said...

AARGH. What's even worse is that she missed my point entirely. PORN isn't actually even being censored, has never been.

No, the Dworkin/McKinnon anti-porn ordinance was partially written into this obscenity law to "protect women," but it's actually been USED (for years and years!) to censor books, films, etc. which are relevant to/portray positively alternative sexualities as they come over the border.

And yes, American radfems are all too happy to ignore the clusterfuck, because it's not in THEIR backyard. I've seen that so many times - "It was a Canadian court, it's Canada's problem, we have nothing to do with that."

Nothing to do with it! No influence at all! Fuck, I think McKinnon herself may have even supported the decision (although I know Dworkin wisely did not).

Enraging.

This SHOULD be something for radfems to actually get ANGRY about. Writing that was originally designed to protect women (whether we all agree it does that or not) gets used by the Man to suppress the flow of information TO WOMEN for fuck's sake.

GAAAH.

Commented again, anyway.

Bean said...

But oh yeah, the fact that she decided a naughty billboard is worse than, hell, ANY kind of systematic censorship just fucking slays me.

uh said...

your anti-joan campaign is becoming really tedious.

SnowdropExplodes said...

Bearing in mind that I'm not allowed to comment over there because I have mean and nasty sexual fantasies, but anyway:-

Do you think Joan Kelly would think the Spanner ruling was relevant or not, given that that really does affect "the sex people are having", or does "it's not USA law so it doesn't count" trump all?

Cos if "not USA law so it doesn't count" is the key test then woo, I guess Hamid Karzai is off the hook with radfems for passing a law that permits rape within marriage - because that's not USA law either!

***

Of course, the other thing that Ms Kelly is forgetting is that long before homosexuality became generally accepted by the (British, at least) population, it was seen as a fitting subject for humour and billboards - because it was "edgy" and "different". I'm pretty sure that gay jokes were in the media even before the 1967 law legalised homosexuality! So a billboard showing mild OTK spanking is most definitely not evidence that BDSM is generally accepted by society, or "mainstreamed".

Trinity said...

"Of course, the other thing that Ms Kelly is forgetting is that long before homosexuality became generally accepted by the (British, at least) population, it was seen as a fitting subject for humour and billboards - because it was "edgy" and "different"."

Precisely. I understand that she doesn't like to see billboards that she feels are sexist. I just... it's beyond my comprehension where she gets this idea that fashion designers being Creepy As Usual is somehow an indication that M/f dynamics are accepted by the larger culture.

"Accepted by the larger culture," at least as I see it, would mean people noticing and arguing against the mistreatment of kinky people by the larger culture. there would be lots of vanilla people who argue for our rights in the same way that many heterosexual allies argue that gay marriage is a civil right. That's what acceptance -- or at the very least, the beginning of acceptance -- would actually look like.

I know people don't like to acknowledge that maybe they need allies from the oppressor class, but I do think beginning to have a critical mass of dollars from the oppressor class really does indicate something about a minority group's social standing.

I suppose it's possible that I could simply be missing something very important because I never paid much attention to fashion magazines or other fashion ads. But I've always found that argument a little flimsy, because it seems to me to assume that every female person is simply transfixed by images all around them all the time.

I don't have a big problem with understanding myself as a strange outlier -- I kind of always have been -- but it still seems to me to insult "normal" women to suggest that they feel assaulted every time they see something strange on a billboard.

Do any of my readers here consider themselves normal women? Can anybody enlighten me on why this is so terrible an affront?

Trinity said...

"Dollars" = "allies." My dictation program sometimes makes amusing errors.

Dw3t-Hthr said...

It's probably a sign that I'm not a "normal woman" that the only billboard I've ever seen that actually distressed me was one for a used car dealership with an ichthys on it.

(But, also, all of these So Porny BDSM Advertisements That Are Everywhere aren't ... near me. Apparently. So I can't evaluate how I'd feel if I were surrounded by them because the billboards here tend to be for car dealerships, banks, and fast food.)

Lissy said...

Do any of my readers here consider themselves normal women? Can anybody enlighten me on why this is so terrible an affront?

Normal women? Who are they?:)I am feeling slightly cynical this morning but I don't think normal women would consider the billboard an affront, maybe its too many years of shovelling shit in the feminist trenches but IMO most normal women wouldn't even notice the bloody billboard... but this could just be an Australian thing... maybe women in the US have a greater insight into their own culture and society than we do down here...

ah ah! I have no idea how to do the html tags for this link: Margot D Weiss "Mainstreaming Kink: The Politics of BDSM Representation in U.S Popular Media."

https://wesfiles.wesleyan.edu/home/mdweiss/pubs/weiss.pdf

"popular images of SM promote the acceptance and understanding of sexual minorities through two mechanisms: acceptance via normalization, and understanding by pathologizing. Rather than challenging the privileged status of normative sexuality, these mechanisms reinforce boundaries between protected/ privileged and policed/pathological sexualities."

Trinity said...

"all of these So Porny BDSM Advertisements That Are Everywhere aren't ... near me. Apparently."

I wonder if some of that's a function of being in Cailfornia. I do notice more fashion-y billboards in big cities.

I've never found them perturbing, though. IMO most fashion designers are trying their damndest to seem odd and "edgy." To me it usually just comes off looking strange. And mildly creepy. Lots of dead-looking expressions, cold lighting, etc. Maybe I'm just odd, but I have a hard time imagining people seeing that as "normal." I always thought it was intended to seem odd.

Trinity said...

Lissy, thanks for that link. That's exactly what her comment made me think of, actually. I just didn't post about it because I'm supposed to be gone. XD

Alcibiades said...

It's particularly enraging because they don't even see why such a billboard might be furthering oppression instead of showing acceptance.

I mean, the "gimp" scene in Pulp Fiction may be displaying BDSM tropes, but it it as far away from showing acceptance as you could imagine. When BDSM is used in popular culture, it is invariably used as a "look at the freaks," or at best, "look how fucking edgy we are." None of which would get a pass if more accepted sexual minorities were the target of such representations.

And, of course, the fact that stereotypical depictions of queer people have often included BDSM tropes to make them even more "other" doesn't even cross their minds.

deardelilah said...

It's very late and I have nothing intelligent to say, really, but you totally win for this:

"Really, how can these people lament that they lack credence in the larger society when they adamantly refuse to make any fucking sense?"

Thank you for that. I'd just read your previous post, and I couldn't even figure out what the fuck she was talking about. See above re: very late. I should probably go to bed now.

The Unintentional Feminist said...

I agree that presence of BDSM images in mainstream media is in no way the same as it being socially accepted, but it is being somewhat "mainstreamed" in a way that can have negative effects. ND loves to rant how BDSM is taking over and it usually annoys the crap out of me, but she has a point this time. A person being exposed to these images could developed a warped view of sexuality and the nature of male female relationships, if that’s all they're seeing, (and they’re seeing it a lot,) and they don't get the whole story. What I want every person in the world to be made aware of is this: spanking and whatever the hell else can be amazing and fun and totally ok IF its consensual and both people really want it and aren’t just sort of ok with it, and IF the dominant still respects the sub as a person, and IF they use a safeword properly, and IF both people involved no how to discuss and respect limits, and IF they are willing to communicate enough to keep the relationship from turning into abuse. I would love it if those messages were "mainstreamed" but instead all random people on the highway see is that act itself, and I think that could be doing damage. Of course, that doesn't make it any relevant to Canadian obscenity laws or worth of that sort of outrage over one billboard...

Trinity said...

"A person being exposed to these images could developed a warped view of sexuality and the nature of male female relationships, if that’s all they're seeing, (and they’re seeing it a lot,) and they don't get the whole story."

I don't know.

On the one hand, I agree that media are powerful -- I know I had the impression women were supposed to swoon over manly!men, and feeling intensely that there was something wrong with me for imagining myself in a role that was the opposite of the one society told me was "the girl." So I am very much in support of a social environment that stresses choice and difference.

But on the other, I'm not sure that I think the problem is specifically BDSM in media. I'm not sure the image of someone getting playfully spanked is "worse" than the idea that a woman is supposed to want her male knight in shining armor. That may be, but I'm not yet fully convinced. I can only speak for me, and anecdata is dangerous, but I know when I saw things specifically referencing BDSM I actually felt better, in a way, because I knew that that was over the top, and it was easier for me to imagine the people in the picture/story/song doing that because they'd chosen to.

Personally the only message I got that told me men expected something *debasing* from women (as opposed to this idea that there were supposedly two complementary roles and I for some unknown reason kept identifying with the one that wasn't supposed to be mine) was the little I knew as a youngin' about women giving oral sex to men -- all I'd ever really heard was that the woman kneels before the man and does things to make him feel good and not her, and that tripped my OH GOD WRONG HOW DARE YOU EXPECT *KNEELING* OF ME EVER and made me afraid and creeped out.

(Actually, that kind of thing convinced me I was probably asexual... because everyone else was intrigued and I was revolted. I wondered if I was not attracted to men and that was it, but I wasn't sure because just the thought of a different gender setup didn't really do much for me either. I didn't really connect my fantasies of someone submitting to me, or my tendency to collect media that depicted things more BDSMily, specifically to sex until I grew older, at which point it was OMG LIGHT BULB HEY I GET IT NOW.)

So I do wonder if I would have been creeped out if the kneeling part had actually been presented as something negotiated and not a default, or as a result of submissive feelings not all women have. Most likely not as much.

Thinking back on it, it may not have been depictions of submissive female characters that made me feel threatened and erased -- there were some I liked in my favorite stories and shows -- but rather the assumption that that was a universal thing and that all women are waiting for something to bring it out. I think just doing away with "all strong women secretly yearn to be shown their place" would have been enough for *me*.

Other girls and young women, though, I'm not sure. Nor am I sure how easy it would be to keep some kink tropes while getting that message across.

unintentionalfeminist said...

I didn't mean to say that there aren't problematic portrayals of vanilla relationships in the media, obviously there are, and they can be even more harmful than elements of BDSM because they fly under the radar and are so generally accepted. And I definitely agree about the "all strong women secretly yearn to be shown their place" thing. That message was especially hard for me to deal with growing up because while I knew intellectually that it was wrong and dangerous, I couldn't disprove it, because there was a pretty big part of me that wanted to be degraded and humiliated and so on. Every time I would encounter something with a message vaguely like that I'd be desperate to say that it was wrong, that no women wanted that, but I couldn't because I knew I did. I spent years trying to figure out what things I was allowed to want. On the one hand I fairly frequently saw things that excited me because of the power dynamic that seemed accepted by the world at large, but feminists objected to them, and my inner "strong woman" couldn't stand that fact that I wanted to let people do those things to me. I finally realized later that there was no one thing "women want" and that what mattered was what I wanted and what my partner wanted, and that all kink is agreed upon because its mutually enjoyable and not by default. Depictions of spanking or whatever else out of context still worry me, because it’s presented as something edgy, outside the norm, but not seriously dangerous, so people start to imagine that that’s the thing every woman wants but is afraid to ask for. At least that's what would happen if it really was everywhere, it isn't, or if they always showed a man dominating a woman, which they don't. It’s not that big of a deal, but it's something to think about. Of course media representation of Femdom is a whole different issue...

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