Archive for March, 2011


Posted: March 31, 2011 in Uncategorized

This is a reminder to myself. About what happens when you go against your nature. Or rather, that which has been imposed and prescribed as your ‘nature’.

It is a reminder that I let the ‘team’ down. I have been called a ‘colluder’ and an ‘Uncle Tom’ and accused of ‘brownnosing’ who? Men? The ‘enemy’? Whilst these terms are rather OTT I understand why they are used.

It is a reminder that when I reject Feminism, I am rejecting ‘where I am from’. I am rejecting my Mother, and her mother. I am rejecting my own identity as a ‘woman’.

‘QRG: The whole world does not exist for you’ someone said.  It’s not all about you. But our struggle to make sense of where we fit in the world is about us. It IS about me.

I don’t know if I can write Anti-Feminist. I don’t know if the author of Anti-Gay could have written Anti-Gay if he had have been born into ‘Gay’ identity politics. His ‘nature’ would have been inscribed on him long before his birth. Before his conception, even. It would have been his ancestory.  I mean, I still feel bad when I have ambivalent thoughts about The Suffragettes. As if somehow I am betraying them too. Like they died for me and what thanks do I give them?

But I need to write something. I can’t just be having other people’s voices ringing in my ears all my life. I thought feminists were supposed to be into women’s autonomy? Their right to choose? Their self-expression.  That is obviously bullshit.  Someone has to call bullshit on that particular lie.

Anyway. I’m confused. I don’t know whether it really matters or not. Whether I really matter or not. Whether my story is just another  comedy routine to go with all the others. Or if it has any value beyond my own little travelling theatre. I never was much one for acting.

I don’t know what to do.

Down To You

Posted: March 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

You go down to the pick up station craving warmth and beauty

You settle for less than fascination, a few drinks later you’re not so choosy

When the closing lights strip off the shadows on this strange new flesh you’ve found

Clutching the night to you like a figleaf you hurry to the blackness and the blankets

To lay down an impression, and your loneliness…

If you are not much of a participant on the feminist or transgender politics blogospheres, you might not know what a Safe Space is. I wish I didn’t.

According to wiki, A safe space

‘is a term for an area or forum where either a marginalised group are not supposed to face standard mainstream stereotypes and marginalisation, or in which a shared political or social viewpoint is required to participate in the space. For example, a feminist safe space would not allow free expression of anti-feminist viewpoints’.

No wonder I have problems!

Women only spaces have long since been an aspect of feminism. Growing up in a feminist household in the 1970s,  I remember my Mum and her friends being part of various women’s groups.  I was in ‘women’s CND’ in the 1980s and spent some time at that most excellent of ‘women’s only’ spaces, Greenham Common Peace Camp. Though, I have to tell you, it wasn’t just the lovely lesbian ladies, the feminist politics and the all-women anti-nuclear protesting that I liked. Because at Greenham, I actually encountered quite a few men, most of whom were in uniform! Whether it was coach drivers, policemen or those exotic, taboo figures on the other side of the fence: US soldiers, my favourite women’s only space wasn’t women only at all.

Since the internet got into its stride in the 1990s and 2000s, ‘safe spaces’ have come to fit the definition given above. these online ‘safe spaces’ exist alongside some women’s only ‘safe spaces’ in ‘real life’ such as rape crisis centres, women’s refuges and women’s discussion groups. Not to mention the Women’s Institute and women’s organisations which may not consider themselves ‘feminist’ at all.

I am focussing on internet ‘safe spaces’ here. The question I want to ask is, who are they protecting? Who is ‘safe’ in these spaces and who/what are the ‘dangers’ they are being protected from?

A lot of the language of ‘safe spaces’ focusses on issues pertinent to ‘radical feminism’. So safe spaces tend to be identified as places where women are safe to state their pro-choice views, to discuss and campaign against sexual violence (against women), and domestic violence (against women). Many ‘safe spaces’ online are tightly moderated and posts are flagged up quite a lot with ‘trigger warnings’. Trigger warnings

‘are designed to prevent people who have an extremely strong and damaging emotional response (for example, post-traumatic flashbacks or urges to harm themselves) to certain subjects from encountering them unaware. Having these responses is called “being triggered”. A trigger warning usually takes the form of some emphasised (usually bold) text describing in broad terms the upsetting nature of the content, and contains the words “trigger warning”‘.

The whole language and atmosphere of these online ‘safe spaces’ is one in which it is suggested that the women who participate in them are potentially vulnerable. That certain arguments, subjects and discussions are ‘dangerous’ or harmful to their well-being and that they should be protected from particular viewpoints and styles of debate.

Frankly I find this insulting. Not least because I am often labelled as the ‘danger’ to these women, and have my comments deleted, or am blocked completely from participating in discussions on a website/blog.

When you log on to your computer and when you sign in to comment on a blog, you do not have to state your gender identity, your political viewpoint or your status in regards to gender violence.  So the moderators do not know which of the commenters are in need of the ‘protection’ a safe space is said to provide.

The fact that, though I hate the phrase and the label, I am a ‘survivor of sexual violence’, a ‘survivor of domestic violence’ and someone with ‘gender identity issues’ means nothing. I have been treated as a threat, and accused of ‘triggering’ women on feminist blogs, and been kicked off them accordingly. These spaces are definitely not ‘safe’ for me, even though I tick all the stupid, infantile and patronising boxes that suggest they are supposed to be.

My most recent conflict with a feminist ‘safe space’ was just today, on this UK feminist blog, The F word, discussion about ‘the tyranny of silencing’ of minority and marginalised voices. Haha.

As you can see, I said on the discussion that I am continually ‘silenced’ by feminists, on blogs and websites, for stating my views and challenging their dogma. The result was, they did not publish all my comments, I was told I was ‘derailing’ the discussion, and someone made a long and personal diatribe against me before the whole comments thread was closed down. Before I could respond to her. The moderator left this comment before closing down the comments:

‘Just a reminder that the original post is by an agender person.

From here on out, comments which ignore that fact in favour of derailing/recentring/name-calling and carrying on personal feuds will not be published – not out of any intention to silence anyone but because it’s making this space feel quite unsafe.

With that in mind, I’m temporarily putting *all* comments on this post on hold for the rest of today.’

And that was that*.

It is laughable to me,but also quite worrying, that in this environment of mollecoddling women, and apparently ‘agender’ people (though  I get the impression many trans women and gender non-conforming people do not feel protected by feminist safe spaces), someone is always presented as the ‘aggressor’, the one who threatens this cosy little therapeutic atmosphere. And it doesn’t matter how nasty, personal or rude anyone is to that designated aggressor, because they have broken the law of the ‘safe space’.

It’s clever really. It is yet another ruse by feminists to shut down debate and stifle any challenges to their perspectives. As  I have pointed out before, tropes like ‘whataboutthemenz’ have entered feminist discourse, to dismiss and belittle anyone, especially men, who question their ‘gyno-centric’ view of everything.

‘Safe spaces’ do the same thing. On another discussion recently on an American feminist blog I got accused of ‘triggering’ someone’s trauma as a rape survivor and was told to leave.

Now,  I may be cynical. But I have this sneaking suspicion, that if I said I was upset as a result of the content of someone’s remarks about sexual violence or domestic violence, I don’t think they would be told to leave the feminist ‘safe space’ for the sake of my ‘safety’. Thank goodness they wouldn’t. I’d hate to limit other people’s rights to speak on any subject.

And that’s the thing. This isn’t about safety at all is it? Feminists are actually ‘abusing’ people’s real traumatic experiences and using them to justify their tactics of shutting down debate and keeping any dissent out of their little world. What this is really about is ‘silencing’. The tyranny of silencing.

I use the term ‘silencing’ with some reluctance. I don’t think this is a clear-cut case of ‘censorship’. I am not literally silenced. I am writing my response here on my blog. But in terms of feminist discourse and feminist spaces, the regularity with which I get my comments deleted or am blocked completely from sites, does constitute a form of ‘silencing’ in my view. And I know I am not alone in this.

They don’t care I know. They think they have to keep people like me from saying what I believe about gender issues, because I am ‘derailing’ their discussions, I am a ‘troll’ and a ‘timewaster’ and they are all ‘sick’ of me.

I bet they are sick of me. But maybe not quite as sick as I am of them!

Gender is the subject about which I care most about I think. Gender in its widest sense that is. Which is really like saying ‘people’. As such I won’t stop discussing gender issues wherever I see them arise. If I get told to ‘go away’, ‘kindly fuck off’, to take my ‘anti-feminist’ views elsewhere, I will have to abide by their ‘safe spaces’ and do just that.

But this version of sisterhood is precisely why I think ‘sisterhood’ is a farce. As someone once said, ‘it’s like being in the sisterhood without any sisters’.

I am not frightened of anyone. I don’t need protecting and treating like a child. I deal with my own traumas and my own painful memories on my own. I don’t think that ‘safe spaces’ exist in this world.  Because one person’s safe space is another person’s hornet nest.

I am the girl who kicked the hornets’ nest.

I hope you don’t get stung.

*The F-word thread was re-opened the next day and nearly all comments published. I only apologised to the original poster as I was being ‘polite’ and didn’t want to blame that individual  any of the criticisms I was making in the discussion of ‘feminism’ ‘safe spaces’ ‘silencing’ or ‘the F word’. I did not apologise in order to take responsibility/blame  for the way that discussion went!

Mr Fuck Theory doesn’t like Mr Freud very much. And I don’t like Mr Fuck Theory. But I want to put our emotional responses aside to try and explain why I disagree with Fuck Theory’s ‘critique’ of Freud’s ‘conceptual violence’ in relation to femininity and homosexuality.

Here is Fuck Theory’s post:

‘The Blind Spot Of An Old Dream Of Symmetry

The implications of this conceptual violence proliferate in a great number of directions, all of which are best summed by Luce Irigaray’s typically dense and brilliant formula, “A man minus the possibility of (re)presenting oneself as a man = a normal woman.”

As is often the case in Freud’s reading of homosexuality, homos and women both lose out; homos because their object is a “false” object, a misdirection of energy “properly” directed to a vagina, and women because their anatomy is stripped of any specificity:  the only thing that matters is the penis doing the penetrating, whereas all holes are pretty much the same.’


Basically FT is saying that Freud has decided that anal sex between men is simply (but also perversely) what men do in the absence of a vagina in which to put the penis. Because, as Paglia put it so succinctly years later, ‘Penis Fits Vagina’.  Freud is misguided, because the man whose anus is penetrated, according to critiques of  ‘Freudian’ theory, is presented as ‘the woman’. And this assumes only women can be penetrated. And that the act of sex is primarily penetration by a man of a ‘woman’.

Now, I need to go back to my Freud to demolish this argument effectively. And I don’t have his  Three Essays on The Theory of Sexuality to hand. The main thing I noticed from reading that book was that Freud’s use of the term ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ or ‘active and passive’ did not necessarily relate to ‘man’ and ‘woman’ and that this is important!

But, the real reason I reject FT’s which is the basic ‘feminist’ critique of Freud, is partly, actually, due to those ’emotional responses’ I mentioned before. As Freud has taught us, often our ‘gut’ reactions are the most significant.

Feminists’  ‘gut reaction’, their instinctive dislike of Freud, could be because he prioritises the role of the ‘phallus’ in sexuality and our psyches (which women, lest we forget, do not possess). Gay theorists such as FT may dislike him because they too prioritise the role of the ‘phallus’ and Freud’s analysis suggests that being gay means taking it ‘like a woman’ and losing the power of the…cock.

People think I am the one obsessed by cock. But whole analytical theories and political arguments and identity movements have been built up around this pink, squidgy (and sometimes not so squidgy) member. The thing I like about Freud is he doesn’t hide it. He says- look! Boys and Men have Cocks! They appear before them as babies and dangle infront of them and the women in their lives. They preoccupy their dreams, they wake with them hard, or leaking fluid. They see other men’s at the urinal and compare them. They build buildings in their image. They find that women (and other men)  can’t take their eyes off them. And women, they can only ever really, as  Julia Kristeva would admit if she were being honest, see themselves as ‘she who is without a cock’.

Philosophers such as Irigaray, and feminists, and Fuck Theory, are trying to supress the importance of the cock, by blaming Freud for noticing it. This seems so unfair to me. And if anyone is doing any conceptual ‘violence’ I think it is them.

I think Mr Fuck Theory can’t deal with the idea that if, (and it’s a big if) and when he bends over to take it, he may be somehow ’emasculating’ himself, even for the briefest time. So he makes out the anus is this special hole, where special ‘manly’ things happen that is so different from the vagina, which is what girls have.

FT acknowledges that women can have anal and vaginal sex, but he does so to make the point that the anus and the vagina are ‘qualitatively distinct’, and that by implication gay men and women are ‘qualitatively distinct’ I can’t help but feel.  Now,  I am a woman who has had anal and vaginal sex. My experience is only one person’s. But I think personal experience, and Sigmund should agree, is valuable in discussing sexuality. Mr Fuck Theory never discusses his personal experience, beyond telling us he ‘fucks’ (theory and MEN’s anuses).

There are differences between vaginal and anal sex. One of the differences is I worry more during vaginal sex that it may lead to pregnancy. Another is that the anus is tighter than the vagina. And the man tends to seem to find it more ‘naughty’ to do anal. Also, I find it easier to do anal without facing my partner, and harder to have vaginal sex, without facing my partner. Sometimes I don’t want to see his face, or mine reflected in his. Another difference is it feels to me, in my body, that the route to ‘me’, to my self and my emotions, that vulnerable place inside where everything can come crashing down at any minute, is via my vagina. It came as no surprise to me, that after I had ‘escaped’ a violent (including ‘conceptually violent’) relationship with a man, that it was vaginal intercourse that could leave me frightened, crying, shaking, vulnerable, every time I ‘had it’ (because, boys and girls, being penetrated is something that ‘happens to you’ not something that you ‘do’) for months, or maybe a year afterwards. I have not spoken to men about this, but I wonder if there is a route that leads to their inner self? Because if it is not via my anus, could it be via theirs? (Maybe it is via their mouths – and we all have one of them).

But I can’t articulate these specific differences, or ask these questions, using the language of feminist and gay ‘anti-Freudian’ theorists. They are too busy both denying and thus reinforcing the ‘feminine v masculine’ ‘active v passive’ roles in sex that Freud identified.  Because if you deny something too heavily you end up just emphasising how important it is. Mr Fuck Theory is saying: Gay men are MEN, who don’t have VAGINAS who are DIFFERENT from WOMEN. They  are not women because they have a COCK! And really, who would want to fuck, let alone be a woman? I note with some amusement that though they share a critique of Freud, the feminists and the ‘gayists’ tend to use this critique to deny what they have in common: ‘we are not faggots’ say the feminists, ‘we are not women’ say the faggots. I suspect Freud might be amused by that too, if he were around to see it.

I think Mr Fuck Theory is proving Freud’s point. I think he is saying ‘suck my dick, Sigmund’, but the lady doth protest too much.


If you don’t know who Le Tigre were you need to do some Riot Grrrl homework people! JD Samson was part of this electronica/punk/screamo/post-disco/whateveryouwanttocallit trio in the 1990s and 2000s. Le Tigre ROCKED!

But also, they played with gender identities.  I think the whole of Riot Grrl did. As soon as you have seen a woman in torn jeans and backcombed hair playing  bass guitar screaming ‘SWAMP PUSSY’ you know that the role of   ‘female rock artist’ is being fucked with. That the concept of ‘woman’ is being fucked with. (incidentally one of my favourite Riot Grrrl bands was Bongwater. Their analysis of post-feminist neo-liberalism via the themes of Pretty Woman was something to behold: ‘cos that’s all women are good for isn’t it? Sucking and Shopping, Sucking and Shopping, Sucking and Shopping….’ And now, maybe our popular culture is telling us that ‘sucking and shopping’ is all anyone is good for).

Le Tigre fucked with gender, perhaps  the most consciously of all the Riot Grrrl bands. Not least through the persona of JD Samson. And in Samson’s new project, gender is still at the forefront … it is called MEN after all.

I don’t want to make too much commentary. JD Samson speaks on this OUT! interview more eloquently than I ever could. But it is worth a listen. And the new single by MEN, ‘Off Our Backs’ is damned catchy, with quite a sexy video too. We love you JD!!

“If Miss Honeychurch ever takes to live as she plays, it will be very exciting both for us and for her”

This was in A Room With A View which I read when I was 17 (and saw the film, and had this poster above my bed).  I played the piano, like Lucy Honeychurch (pretty well at the time). And, just like Lucy Honeychurch  I thought I was on the brink of life. Then life happened and I’m still there on the brink, and it isn’t exciting for me or the world, and I don’t even play the piano anymore.

If I didn’t write I don’t believe I would exist at all.

I found out that Gaga’s latest album and single were to be called ‘Born This Way’ towards the end of last year. My heart sank.  I knew it was going to become, if not a popular gay anthem, at least a symbol of the worst kind of essentialist thinking around sexuality. Unfortunately my fears have been proven right. The single went straight to number One in the American Billboard charts, and gay rights organisations and campaigns have been using it as shorthand, as way of securing the ‘gay’ identity as fixed and natural. We all know it is a crap song. We all know Gaga is looking a little less triumphant than she says she is feeling. But this doesn’t really matter. It is serving its purpose, ideologically speaking.

I’m beautiful in my way / ‘Cause God makes no mistakes / I’m on the right track, baby / I was born this way,”

If I have to see those words or hear them one more time I might just declare myself ‘straight’.

The most recent confirmation of the discursive power of Gaga’s lyrics, that she apparently wrote in five minutes flat, comes in the form of an article in Salon.

Ominously, the article is called ‘Fact Checking Lady Gaga’s Born This Way’. Because pop songs are now scientific papers that have to be ‘fact checked’? How very clinical.

Rahul Parikh, the author of the piece, quotes a psychiatrist, Ron Holt to support his view that we are all, indeed, ‘born this way’. Holt says that sexual orientation

‘refers to a person’s erotic response, regardless of the gender that evokes that response. Sexual orientation, he says, is fixed. This is in contrast to sexual behavior, which a person can alter. In other words, people can’t change their sexual orientation, but they can hide it.’

I don’t quite understand this paragraph, as I thought ‘sexual orientation’ was dependent on the gender that evokes sexual response. But anyway, Holt’s assertion is that sexuality is fixed. It is what we do with it that is open to change, or, as Parikh says, what we hide.

In a rather deft move, Parikh then goes to put Freud, the Grandaddy of modern theories of sexuality, up against Lady Gaga, a popstar, to show how the Austrian psychoanalyst and philosopher was surely lacking in his understanding, that he was wrong and Gaga is right, ’cause God makes no mistakes’. And Gaga, as a major 21st century celebrity is a kind of God.

‘Freud, unlike Lady Gaga, took the position that it was environmental, the result of child-rearing. If you were a boy, and your mother was overbearing or your father cold and distant, you were more likely to be gay. Freud’s view dominated medical discourse for much of the 20th century’.

According to this Salon article, the ‘constructionist’ view of sexuality which came from Freud, ‘may have led to various attempts by religious groups to try to “convert” gays “back into” heterosexuals’ . Because if something is not fixed but is dependent on environment, it can be influenced, tampered with, ‘cured’.

‘Science and sensitivity began to creep into that discourse’.says Parikh. Ah yes, because when it comes to studies of sexuality, science is known for its sensitivity isn’t it?

‘In 1973, the word “homosexuality” was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the bible of psychiatry. The 1990s were an era of discoveries that began to point toward a biological basis for sexual orientation, including a then hotly discussed 1991 study showing differences in the size of certain parts of the brain between straight and gay men. Since then, science has built a case against Freud and in favor of Lady Gaga.’

The ‘hotly discussed 1991 study’ is actually a very dodgy piece of research indeed, which has been discredited. The idea of a ‘gay brain’ is a sort of Frankenstein sci-fi fantasy, that Mark Simpson demolishes much better than I could:

And yet, like a zombie rising from the dead, Simon Le Vay’s ‘gay brain’ is resurrected on a regular basis, not least by Salon itself. In 2010 Salon promoted a book by Le Vay which was really only rehashing his already proven to be wrong theories:

If that wasn’t bad enough, the Salon article then goes on to quote at length, another discredited ‘sex’ scientist: Michael Bailey. According to Salon, Bailey ‘is very confident that Lady Gaga is right.’ As if they have all had a conference together where Gaga has performed ‘Born This Way’ and had it approved by a panel of experts.

Even Bailey and Parikh  admit that ‘there are some subtleties you have to get through before you can understand that’ we are ‘born this way’. And by subtleties he means, ‘bullshit science’.

‘For example, if we are “born this way,” then why do studies of identical twins, some done by Bailey himself, reveal in many cases that one twin is straight and the other is gay? If they’re genetically identical, how can they be anything but the same in every way?’

The article does not answer this question satisfactory and starts using words like ‘speculation’ and ‘we don’t know’ and ‘may’  and ‘we are in our infancy of our understanding about sexual orientation’… to show that this is not a proven theory.

And that’s the thing. Nobody knows for sure how we come to ‘be’ who we are, how we come to have a certain sexuality. And nobody, not even God, or Gaga, ever will.  The key difference for me between Freud and Gaga and Bailey and Le Vay, is that Freud embraced how we did not know for sure how sexuality is formed. He did not use his ‘science’ to impose a dogmatic view of sexuality on everyone. He was far more concerned with individuals and how their development and experiences affected them emotionally. The others are trying to come up with an over-arching theory of sexuality, in order to moralise and police sexuality. In order to normalise it.

The context in which this ‘science’ is presented is America, where the ‘far right’ and Christian fundamentalists are pitched in a battle against gay rights campaigners. The gay rights lobby, and liberal America, presents sexuality as innate and fixed, because this counteracts the Christian right’s view that it is a chosen ‘sinful’ activity, or a disease that can be cured. If we are ‘born this way’ then surely God meant us to be like this? ‘Cause God makes no mistakes,right?

Except maybe he has. Because the article then goes onto mention ‘a major wild card in this entire discussion, one that puts to the test Ron Holt’s assertion that sexual orientation is fixed: women’. That’s right.  Half the population may actually not fit this scientific theory after all!

‘While most of the research has confirmed that men are “born this way,” Bailey says, there is an emerging view about women that is very different from men. “Leading researchers are beginning to believe that female sexual orientation is a bit more flexible than that of men,” he says. “Women have a higher rate of bisexual feelings than men. It’s not uncommon for a woman who has been in a lifelong heterosexual relationship to become attached to and develop a physical relationship with another woman.” ‘

But actually this attitude towards women’s sexuality being more fluid than men’s is just part of the same, ‘liberal’ conservative discourse, whereby it is actually men’s homo-sexualities which are being treated as ‘sacred’, fixed, and separate from men’s hetero-sexualities. Because it is homosexuality, and more significantly, male bisexuality, which threatens the whole concept of being a ‘man’.  Which, in America especially, is almost important as being Christian. Again Mark Simpson has written more lucidly than I can on the subject of the denial of men’s bisexuality by scientists such as Bailey.

I hope Mark might add something to this attempt at a take-down of Salon and its stroking of neuroscientist’s egos, because I know it is his field more than mine.

While I wait for his response, take a look at the photo at the top of this post. It  is from an American blog called ‘born gay born this way’.

This is a site where people send in photos of when they were children, to prove that they were ‘born this way’. I find it quite heartbreaking. It is full of gorgeous pictures of cherubic kids, playing cowboys and Indians, dressing up in Mommy’s dresses, putting on make-up, having water pistol fights, dancing. Being children. And then accompanying the pictures are little essays explaining how these kids knew from a young age that they were ‘different’ from other kids, because they didn’t do what ‘normal’ boys or girls did.This is Amanda. Isn’t she adorable? Does she look like a lesbian to you? She looks like a kid to me!

I am depressed but also glad that Salon has produced such a blatant, disingenuous piece of journalism. And that Gaga has shot herself in the foot by making the worst and most sanctimonious pop song since —er—- Michael Jackson’s Earth Song.  Because it gives us a chance to challenge head on the ‘gay agenda’ and the ‘essentialist’ agenda of liberal America in particular.

Parikh ends his article even more cynically, by quoting The Smiths ‘what difference does it make? It makes none’. But if it makes no difference whether or not we are born or made into certain sexualities, why make so much effort to prove one or the other?

Gaga’s album hasn’t even been released yet. But she has provided the liberal ‘conservatives’ with some invaluable ammunition in their war against sexual choice. You know what? I’d rather be identified as a good old-fashioned pervert in the Freudian sense. At least then my sexuality could not be co-opted by the do-gooders and the God botherers.

SO this is for you Siggy. Touch Me, I’m Sick!