sunflowerp: (Default)
I've really got to stop making long comments on other people's blogs instead of posting here. Or at any rate, I need to ruminate here as well.

Holly at The Pervocracy (adult content) has ruffled a few feathers of late. The real action is in the comments to her I Love Men post, where I refrained from further comment after the rufflees arrived, on the supposition that some seemed likely to be Trolls, and thus should not be fed. (Further observation suggests there are no true Trolls [or that Holly blocked the only one, an ill-mannered trollop who didn't notice the irony/hypocrisy of appearing out of the blue and accusing one of Holly's regular commenters of appearing out of the blue], merely ideologues and Utopians, since they're not commenting on any of her other posts.)

A further installment in the saga can be found in her Like sex?... post. (Do follow the trail of linky breadcrumbs to see the whole of what Twisty said - I'll make some references to that, as well as to what's at Holly's, but you don't need to bother with Twisty's commenters unless you're entertained by such things. Oh, except for the fourth one, by Nine Deuce, who talks about a "new" definition for sex-pos feminism. There may be others worth a look; should I decide to read more of 'em, and find any, I'll let you know.) That's where I made the lengthy comment that I'm sorta-kinda going to expand on here.

Y'see, apparently sex-positive feminists are all a bunch of irresponsible, hormone-driven twentysomething party girls who wear skimpy clothes, talk about "Girl Power" and derive a false sense of power from attracting male attention. Yep, that's me, young, gorgeous, lean-bellied, perky-breasted, wearing a baby tee and high heels, batting my false eyelashes at the men. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

(I'll pause for a moment while those of my readers who know me in person stop rolling on the floor, get back in their chairs, wipe their eyes, and regain their composure. This may take a while.)

The reality? I'm middle-aged, and have a figure very similar to that of my witchy avatar (but with less-perky tits - years on a one-gee planet have an effect). I rarely bother with makeup (when I do, it's goth paint), and haven't worn heels since my sister's wedding almost 13 years ago. I have hairy legs and hairy 'pits (okay, not very; my body hair is fair and fine - but not by any effort of mine), and my primary sartorial consideration is comfort. I don't look like a Spice Girl, I look like a former hippie.

It appears that the confusion lies in assuming sex-pos feminist = "sexy feminist", and further assuming that "sexy" means "enhancing one's appearance to conform to media-promulgated standards of sexually-attractive femininity". BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!

I'm definitely and emphatically a sex-positive feminist - the exploring I've been doing has strongly confirmed that, in all sorts of unexpected ways, that modifier is the right fit. Whether or not I'm a sexy feminist depends entirely on what the observer finds sexy - if one's taste runs to a strong-willed, outspoken, opinionated, obstinate, well-read, geeky woman with an excellent command of the English language, a snarky wit, and a mind like a steel trap, then I'm sexy as hell, with very little reference to media-driven conventions. And, bloody hell, if being able to be sexy in one's own, unique, individual way, entirely independent of conformity to some hypothetical standard, isn't part of what we've been fighting for, I'm in the wrong movement.

It seems to me that those assumptions require an underlying assumption: that there is a universally-applicable, prescriptive, definition of "sexy" - that sexiness necessarily refers to female attractiveness, to men, and that all men are sexually attracted by the same qualities - and, further, that this posited universal definition is, in fact, the one found in mainstream advertising and entertainment. If a woman doesn't fit, or chooses not to fit, that standard, then she is, by definition, not sexy. (I'm not certain whether the implication in the other direction is that men can't be sexy, or can only be sexy in homosexual contexts, or it's an entirely separate and unrelated issue.)

Evidently those holding such assumptions know different men than I do - or have not troubled to find out what the men of their acquaintance prefer, or suppose their male associates to be exceptions to the otherwise-unrelieved monolith of - wait for it - Class Man.

Yep, gender essentialism rears its mentally-lazy head - that same thoughtless homogenization that underpins prescriptive gender roles, and without which misogyny, hostility to women as a class, possible.

I'm not accusing any individual of gender essentialism, much less of misandry; I'm just following the chain of logic as I see it. Perhaps there are links I've missed; perhaps there are individuals who have adopted the surface assumptions without considering what underlying assumptions they led to. Perhaps those who hold all these assumptions really do know different men than I do, men who really do fit that picture. It's not like such men don't exist; I've known plenty of them, too. They're not only a significant part of why I've remained feminist (I truly don't ever recall a time when I was aware of feminism but thought I wasn't one - I was pondering the pros and cons of committing arson on training bras a good four years before I owned one*), they're a significant part of why I'm a sex-positive feminist: because I damn well want positive sex, not the mediocre exercise in friction offered by those particular individual men. (And, I inadvertently lied in my Intro entry; I will post rants about particular men who have strengthened my feminist resolve - no names, no pack drill, but plenty of snark.) But there are quite a few men who have rejected that Procrustean bed, and a whole lot more who've discovered that it's uncomfortable as hell but haven't yet figured out how to get out of it.

Is it possible that the "sex-positive feminism" label is being co-opted by horny young women as a way to compete in the Girly-Girl Olympics (in two "events": in the Traditional Program, whoever gets and keeps the most high-status man gets the gold; in Freestyle Catch-and-Release, it's whoever gets the most men) and still pretend to have feminist street cred? Possibly, although most of the Girly-Girl Olympians I've met don't want to be feminists (which they think requires them to be humorless and implacably hostile to men) - and the few that do are perfectly happy with the "sexy feminist" identity. Hell, plenty of young women who are outright militant about sexist crap are rejecting the feminist label (but that's another post). And it's not Holly who's co-opting - her blog makes it amply clear, to those who bother to read, that it s a sex blog that sometimes discusses feminism, not an attempt to construct a feminist ideology out of sex.

Nevertheless, yep, making sure sex-positive feminism is well-defined is an excellent idea - since there are clearly those who will happily redefine it if we don't. Contrary to Nine Deuce's supposition (mentioned above), though, it's not a new definition - well before (media-driven) "Girl Power", there were the Sex Wars of the '80s, wherein radical feminism schismed bitterly. Those who disagreed with the prohibitionist approach - to sex work, to erotica/porn, to kink, to overt expression of female sexuality, etc - are where sex-pos feminism came from.

So when 9D says the "new" definition should "revolve around women demanding that their sexuality be acknowledged to be independent of male sexuality and that their sexual needs be met," there's nothing new about it. One of the interesting things about that approach is, individual sexuality and sexual needs are, well, individual - when your feminist discourse involves frank discussion on the subject, it becomes impossible to ignore diversity. (You can despise it, if you must, but you can't ignore it.)

In my long-but-much-shorter-than-this comment at Holly's, I found myself doing a seat-of-the-pants definition, not because of 9D (I think I hadn't seen her remarks at that point), but because of somethingorother somewhereorother that I can't find now, that I construed as a complaint that sex-pos feminists were vague about their actual stance, and as part of my point that "sex-pos" doesn't inherently stamp everyone else as "sex-negative": "sex-pos feminism emphasizes the positive aspects of sex and sexuality as a core issue, and strives to address the negative aspects."

There are things I deliberately didn't explicate there - acceptance of transfolk, f'ex, which would've opened a can of worms that'd likely derail the debate altogether. But I'm mentioning it here, because it's part of that running theme of individual diversity.

I have lots and lots more to muse related to Holly's brouhaha and to (my observations of and ideas about) sex-pos, but I've been writing for hours; expect Part 2 in the next day or two.

(N.B. ON COMMENTING, just in case the brouhaha pays a visit here: I'm not shutting off anonymous-to-LJ comments, because they can be productive and I'd rather not lose that. But if you're not on LJ or not signed in, please sign your comments. Feel free to disagree with me all you like, provided it's rational, civil, and engages what I actually wrote. I reserve the right to delete for incivility, obvious flaws in reasoning, and ideological haranguing, if this gets too lively; I like debate, but dislike brawling, and it's my damn journal. F'list folks, and people I know from elsewhere, don't get a free pass, but I will cut 'em more slack than I will for strangers. Identifiable Trolls will be shot on sight.)

(* Can't go without closing my footnote. Yes, I know that no bras were actually burned at that protest, nor is there any record of literal braburning elsewhen/where. But I didn't know that when I was, what, eight or something.)

I've done this post in HTML, so I could include usable links. It should work; if it doesn't, I think I'll go kill something by bare-hands dismemberment.
sunflowerp: (Default)
It occurred to me, after the TIWAFFL intro post, that I really hadn't done as much feminist reading as I should, and there were too many ideas floating around that I didn't know enough about if I wanted to post about them intelligently.

In the (still ongoing, probably lifelong) process of rectifying my ignorance, I discovered that I'd been correct; I didn't know (enough about) what I was talking about.  Oh, I could talk about my ideas as a feminist, but I wouldn't be able to put them in context of feminism, except in a very general way.

The other effect of poking about was Too Much Stuff.  All sorts of thought-provokery, and the thoughts it had provoked, interconnected and overlapping, complex chains of memetic DNA.  One of my obstacles in writing has long been that I'm very conscious of connections; fields of study don't exist in neat vacuum-sealed compartments, but run into each other, bite each other's tails, step on each other's heels, and fall into each other's beds in massive polysexual orgies.  (Just wait until I get my thought-flow organized enough to talk about how the "scarcity" and "abundance" economic models can be applied to feminist-related issues!)

The thought-flow is becoming more organized, but something has to give as far as writing about it is concerned; I think that "something" is (some of the) structure.  I like my "major" posts to be essay-like, albeit conversational and informal, and usually do a first handwritten draft to make sure a post is reasonably on-topic, moves naturally from one idea to the next, and gives at least a nod to the intro-body-conclusion pattern.  Those drafts aren't happening; I start, and next thing I know my mind has pursued six different connections in different directions.  So I think the thing to do is grab an idea and type, and let the part of my brain that manages structural stuff on the fly (as, for example, spoken conversation) maintain organization as best it can.  (It appears to work fairly well so far - evidently, I'm accustomed to using the act of typing as a focal aid.)
sunflowerp: (Default)
It's not altogether accurate to say that I'm planning a series of entries on feminist issues.  It's more that they're in me, and want to come out.  Some have been waiting for more than 30 years for me to have the life experience, the cohesion of thought, the shape and frame of words, to do them justice.  I can't blame them, now that I have these things, for getting a tad impatient.  "Planning" comes into it mainly in keeping their emergence organized.

Rest easy; you won't be reading any man-bashing rants.  You may, though, read some rants about those - feminist and anti-feminist - who present feminism as a philosophic monoculture opposed to men.

Funk & Wagnall's Standard Dictionary of the English Language, in the edition distributed as a companion to the 1959 (note the date) Encyclopaedia Britannica, says, "feminism n  1.  The doctrine which declares the equality of the sexes and advocates equal social, political, and economic rights for women."  (Def 2 is medical, and irrelevant.  There is no def 3.)  While there are quibbles that can be made about that definition (and, being a word geek, I expect to do so in some later entry), it makes, IMO, an excellent baseline.

That's about all the "philosophic monoculture" - what feminists all agree on - that there is.  Feminists disagree, often vigorously and sometimes virulently, about what that means, how best to accomplish it, how much or little has already been accomplished, whether men can be feminists, and what time to adjourn for lunch.  (Not unlike Pagans, or SF fandom.)

Personally, I don't see a damned thing in that definition that excludes men qua men (or includes women qua women, for that matter).  And if I get too hungry, I'll make the motion to adjourn; if the motion is defeated (or bogged down in interminable consensus-building), I'll slide out the back door and go eat.  Which, jesting and snark aside, says quite a bit about what kind of feminist I am.

If the idea of many kinds of feminism, some at loggerheads with each other, is new to you, I recommend Wikipedia's article on the subject (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminism).  It may not be accurate in all details, but it's certainly accurate enough to give you a solid notion of the diversity involved - that is to say, it'll probably confuse the hell out of you; feminism really is that diverse.  (Also not unlike Paganism, or SF fandom.)

I'm not an expert on feminism.  I've never taken even one Women's Studies course.  I haven't read anywhere near everything I "ought" to have read - and have read quite a few things that I "ought not", by some feminists' lights, to have tainted my mind with.  (I'm a Heinlein fan - that's like having a lifetime membership in the Acrimonious Debate With Certain Feminists Club.)

These posts are just what one feminist looks like, and thinks about.

Incidentally, of the "schools" of feminism listed in the Wikipedia article, I probably identify most closely with sex-positive feminism.  This will show in my entries (both in this series, and not), sometimes explicitly.  When that occurs, I'll use cuts with content warnings.  Minors are advised that the laws of their land may opine that they're not supposed to know about such things.
sunflowerp: (Default)
Several of those on my f'list will have already seen this, but it's much too funny to not post about.  If you have any familiarity with the poem "The Rede of the Wiccae", it's priceless.

LJ is not doing what I'd like with links, so you'll have to either go to [personal profile] elisem's LJ and look for the late-January entry titled, "Not... my... fault...," or cut-and-paste to your URL bar:  http://elisem.livejournal.com/1191707.html (unless it translates to a link automatically; I don't expect it to, but I don't always figure these things right).

If you want to compare with the original, it can be found at http://www.wiccanrede.dreamhost.com/wiccae.html .  Or, if you read the comments on Elise's post - which is worth doing if you have the time; some of them are pretty funny too - IIRC she gives a link in one of her responses.

Sunflower

Compersion

Jul. 15th, 2007 05:09 am
sunflowerp: (Default)
My 'Net Sweetie is over the moon about his new love.  Almost obsessive, as NRE (new relationship energy, for those - probably few - who haven't met the term) can be.  That doesn't leave much for me, but that's okay; I'm kind of up in the clouds myself, feeling joy for his joy:  compersion.

sunflowerp: (Default)
Ganked from [profile] corwinnx:

"If you and I were alone in a room right now, what would we be doing?


Now post this in YOUR LJ, and see what people wanna do with you."

Corwinnx posted that a week ago; I've been paying attention to things other than LJ for a bit.  But I find it more interesting than most of the quiz-memes, which for me overrides the timespan thing.
sunflowerp: (Default)
I don't usually go in for quiz-memes, but I couldn't resist this one, found via [profile] superversive .  I'm very pleased with the result; I've been an admirer for several years.


<div id="testResultInfo">
      <h1>Your Score: <span>Katharine Hepburn</span></h1>
      <h2>You scored 14% grit, 28% wit, 52% flair,  and 19% class!</h2>
       <div id="testResultInfoImg"><img src="http://is0.okcupid.com/users/850/490/8504912322575776397/mt1124295468.jpg"></div>
      <p>
You are the fabulously quirky and independent woman of character. You
go your own way, follow your own drummer, take your own lead. You stand
head and shoulders next to your partner, but you are perfectly willing
and able to stand alone. Others might be more classically beautiful or
conventionally woman-like, but you possess a more fundamental common
sense and off-kilter charm, making interesting men fall at your feet.
You can pick them up or leave them there as you see fit. You share the
screen with the likes of Spencer Tracy and Cary Grant, thinking men who
like strong women.
</p><p>
Find out what kind of classic leading man you'd make by taking the
<a href="http://www.okcupid.com/tests/take?testid=8651547809586515731%20">Classic Leading Man Test</a>.
      </p>
</div>

<table cellpadding=20><tr><td>Link: <a href='http://www.okcupid.com/tests/take?testid=4621123663119520922'>The Classic Dames Test</a> written by <a href='http://www.okcupid.com/profile?u=gidgetgoes'>gidgetgoes</a> on <a  href='http://www.okcupid.com'>OkCupid Free Online Dating</a>, home of the <a href='http://www.okcupid.com/online.dating.persona.test'>The Dating Persona Test</a></td></tr></table>

Drat.  I have no idea where the foulup was, and have no interest in spending the time trying to fix it by trial-and-error.
sunflowerp: (Default)
I see it's been a month since my last entry.  I don't at this point want to be committed to a posting schedule, but if I intend to keep my LJ something like current, "not less than monthly" sounds like a good mark to shoot for.  So, this is a bit of a "housekeeping" post - keeping the dust from accumulating again.

I've been considering the whole "friending" thing a lot.  Partly, it comes of one longtime and very dear IRL friend that I added to my flist, but who didn't add me - on consideration, I realized he was probably making the right choice.  Much of what he posts about is of some degree of interest to me; much of what I expect to post about will be outside his range of interests.  That will, undoubtedly, be true of many folks who otherwise might friend me because we're friends IRL or from elsewhere online; likewise, the reverse will sometimes be true.

So my "friending policy" is gradually coming together.  Similarly, other thoughts relating to LJ involvement are developing.  For example, my interests list - I was working on that last night, and realized that it couldn't possibly be complete.  I could double it in size, or more, today, just by ringing the changes on what's already there - more authors, more musical artists, more genres; variant spellings and phrasings and tenses.  Er, no - I'll stick to the high points, and to things I'm particularly likely to want to "make waves" about.

I seem to have exchanged cobwebs for sawdust.
sunflowerp: (Default)
Over the last several months, I've become less and less inclined to describe myself as "Eclectic Wiccan".  This isn't from exposure to initiates of British Traditional Wicca who object to "Wicca(n)" in anything but a BTW context - I respect the case they present, but can't comply with their preference based solely on those arguments, for several reasons.

One, it's not a unified case.  There are BTWs who don't object to sharing the label with their exoteric cousins, who recognize the commonalities as meaningful, who consider Eclectic Wicca to be, if not the same religion, at least a related one.  Since the heart of the "BTW only" argument rests on esoteric material available only to BTW initiates, we who are not initiates of any of the relevant traditions must rely on what those who are initiates are willing to say about similarities and differences - and that goes both ways.

Two, it's about twenty-five years too late.  "Wicca" has taken on a broader meaning, already established through years of usage.  One can reject it, and state why; one can't ignore it.

Three, intellectual honesty.  If my practice is built largely on exoteric Traditional Wicca material, I have an intellectual debt, payable by acknowledging that source.

When it comes down to it, though, that intellectual debt is not to BTWicca alone, but to the whole fabric of neoPagan religious witchcraft.  Up until fairly recently, the differentiation wasn't clear; everybody and hir familiar hitched hir wagon to the "Old Religion" star, and any European-derived witchcraft variant was considered related to all the others (providing its "grandmother story" was sufficiently plausible).

My practices are as influenced by The Spiral Dance as much as by the Farrars or Vivianne Crowley.  There's a bit of Cochranist influence in there, too, mainly but not solely via Valiente.  And so on.  Not all of it's Wiccan, but the vast majority is witchcraft-as-religion as the neoPagan movement generally understands it.

Years before I ever encountered the word "Wicca", I identified as a witch - it's been my preferred term all along.  I became habituated to spelling it with a lower-case "w" back when "W/witch" was the contentious word; it was somewhat less contentious when uncapitalized.  I'm trying to break that habit now, because it seems to me that "Witch" is the identifier that best acknowledges my intellectual debt.

Not that I intend to stop using the term "Eclectic Wicca" to describe witches of a certain sort (or range of sorts); "exoteric-Wicca-derived neoPagan religious witchcraft" is long and awkward, folks who don't know a lot about the history of the neoPagan movement are confused by it, and it has become an established usage.  By and large, what I do is "Eclectic Wicca-compliant", and saying so conveys quite a bit of info to folks in just three words.

But that's an answer to "What kind of Witch?"

Sunflower
sunflowerp: (Default)
Many Pagans began their spiritual quests in their teens - yet the standard community attitude about teen seekers has for years been, "Too risky, let's not go there at all - besides, they're probably too young to be serious about it." Some of those who voice this attitude are those who came to Paganism later, and as teens were uninterested in spiritual matters; they measure teens by the standard of themselves as teens. Some figure, "I had to fumble through it with no guidance, so why shouldn't they?" Many envision hostility and lawsuits as the inevitable result of any interaction with teens. The supposition is that the kids can wait until they're old enough.

Trouble is, that's not how it works. The process of establishing individual identity, keynote of adolescent development, cannot be put on hold - and that includes the establishing of individual spiritual identity in youngens that are so inclined. The kids will keep seeking, they'll keep reading whatever material they have access to that relates to their path, and if they can't find good resources they'll settle for bad ones - they can't be stopped, any more than they can be stopped from growing up (which in fact is exactly what they are doing with their seeking).

So the bottom line is that we MUST "go there". If those of us who are ethical and reliable won't stick our necks out, the unreliable and unethical certainly will. Instead of envisioning worst-case scenarios of conflict with hostile parents and backing off altogether, we need to consider all the scenarios, not just the worst case; we need to consider what the actual risks are, in what situations, and what can be done to minimize them. Those of us who have already been acting as resources for younger seekers will have much to share about what works and what doesn't.

The common ground of this discussion is that we all believe that the whole Pagan community must serve as a resource for the young Pagans and seekers. We may disagree about many other things. Those other things may influence what we think should be done, and how. Debate, including heated debate, is encouraged - but keep in mind that we ultimately have a common goal; if we're preoccupied with "winning" an argument, it's not our debate opponent who ultimately loses, but Paganism's next generation.

Seems to me that's all the "ground rules" needed (very similar ones worked just fine when I was moderating discussion bases on the old dial-up BBSes - I like things loose). Feel free to ask questions if you have 'em.

Oh, and the name of my LiveJournal space? Pure coincidence, I assure you; when I was setting up a few weeks back, I picked it without much thought (beyond, "I can always change it later") from one of my favorite buttons.

Let the discussion begin!

Sunflower