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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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287 Responses

  1. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune January 11, 2013 at 2:08 pm |

    FUCKING WORD.

    Also:

    Folks who insist they’re “trans-ethnic” (who as an aside seem, most of the time, to be teenage white boys who really like Manga and are just positive that they’re really 12-year-old Japanese girls). Or, my favorite, people who are “trans-fat.”

    *incoherent ragegarble*

    1. Bagelsan
      Bagelsan January 11, 2013 at 3:04 pm |

      Would “trans-fat” be kinda like anorexic, though? That sounds like actual body dysmorphia might be in play there, to some extent. The trans-ethnic… not so much. >_<

      1. Donna L
        Donna L January 11, 2013 at 3:08 pm |

        I think this is different. People who are anorexic don’t want to be fat or think they should be fat or identify with people who are fat, and so far as I know that’s exactly what “trans-fatness” involves.

        1. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan January 11, 2013 at 3:14 pm |

          I guess it would be different from eating disorder thinking if the “trans fat” people don’t actually perceive themselves as fat so much as they want to nobly suffer the abuse a fat person might suffer (without any actual, yanno, suffering.)

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 11, 2013 at 6:21 pm |

          Exactly, Donna.

          people don’t actually perceive themselves as fat so much as they want to nobly suffer the abuse a fat person might suffer (without any actual, yanno, suffering.)

          Also this. GAH.

    2. Li
      Li January 11, 2013 at 3:32 pm |

      *incoherent ragegarble*

      People who identify as trans-ethnic are one of my total ragetriggers. Not just because it would be way more efficient for them to identify as totally fucking racist but also because trans-ethnicity was already a thing, used primarily to talk about the experiences of cross-culturally adopted children. WAY TO RUIN A PERFECTLY VIABLE TERM DOUCHBAGS.

    3. amblingalong
      amblingalong January 11, 2013 at 5:48 pm |

      My all time most hated one of these is the transpecies movement who put together- I shit you not- a transgender privilege checklist, full of ways transgender people have it easier than they do (because, for example, sex changes exist, but human-to-wolf operations don’t).

      1. OutrageandSprinkles
        OutrageandSprinkles January 11, 2013 at 6:33 pm |

        Oh my.

      2. Kasabian
        Kasabian January 11, 2013 at 8:15 pm |

        WELCOME TO THE FUCKING THUNDERDOME.

        Jesus H. Christ is that ridiculous.

      3. Chataya
        Chataya January 11, 2013 at 8:49 pm |

        I wonder if otherkin go around telling cats and dogs to check their cis privilege.

        1. Radiant Sophia
          Radiant Sophia January 11, 2013 at 9:02 pm |

          …and another short story is born.

        2. LC
          LC January 11, 2013 at 11:08 pm |

          Radiant Sophia, I want to see that story. :)

        3. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
          The Kittehs' Unpaid Help January 12, 2013 at 3:46 am |

          If it meant they recognise the superiority of cats and dogs, it’d be a plus. ;)

      4. CassandraSays
        CassandraSays January 15, 2013 at 7:33 am |

        Do you know how expensive it is to get wing implant surgery? DO YOU? Acknowledge your privilege!

        (Hey, if nothing else people like that make a great target for mockery.)

  2. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil January 11, 2013 at 2:18 pm |

    I can’t quite tell if this is a product of the internet age or not, but I do perceive a general social trend towards naming things in US culture. For example, the way homosexuality is currently construed and understood as a concept is very different than the way it was viewed 100 years ago. Naming things can be both liberating and restraining at the same time. It can be helpful to say, “I identify with that! That’s me!” but it can also cause people to pathologize behaviors or feelings that they might otherwise find to be a normal part of human life.

  3. Donna L
    Donna L January 11, 2013 at 2:52 pm |

    making an effort to promote the voices and the rights of people who have been historically marginalized.

    It seems to me that most of the kids in that article identify as trans or genderqueer. Middle class college students or not, Warren Beatty and Annette Bening as your parents or not, don’t you think those are identities that have been historically marginalized? You may think of them as privileged, but you don’t really know what they’ve had to deal with in their own lives, or what it take out of them, or what they have left to promote anything else. (Of course, Stephen Ira does happen to be quite an activist, and does more than his share to advocate for trans people.) So I don’t really get why one would even mention this article in the context of talking about obviously appropriative “identities” like being trans-ethnic.

    That said, as usual, young trans women are conspicuous by their absence from the article. I’m sorry to say that things don’t seem to have changed as much as I’d thought they had from what they were like 7 or 8 years ago, when it was always way too obvious in academic settings that young trans guys, and genderqueer people who were assigned female at birth, not only far outnumbered young trans women who were out as such, but were considered to be way cooler and more progressive, etc. (There are a lot of reasons for all of that, and I won’t get into them here.)

    Finally, this professor needs to get over herself; she has a lot to learn:


    The professor, Gail Shister, who is a lesbian, had criticized several students for using “L.G.B.T.Q.” in their essays, saying it was clunky, and proposed using “queer” instead. Some students found the suggestion offensive, including Britt Gilbert, who described Ms. Shister as “unaccepting of things that she doesn’t understand.”

    Even when she says “‘Frankly, I’m both proud and envious that these young people are growing up in an age where they’re free to love who they want,’” she doesn’t seem to understand that being trans — or genderqueer — is about a lot more than that.

    Ms. Shister, reached by phone, said the criticism was strictly grammatical. “I am all about economy of expression,” she said. “L.G.B.T.Q. doesn’t exactly flow off the tongue. So I tell the students, ‘Don’t put in an acronym with five or six letters.’ ”

    1. Li
      Li January 11, 2013 at 3:39 pm |

      That said, as usual, young trans women are conspicuous by their absence from the article. I’m sorry to say that things don’t seem to have changed as much as I’d thought they had from what they were like 7 or 8 years ago, when it was always way too obvious in academic settings that young trans guys, and genderqueer people who were assigned female at birth, not only far outnumbered young trans women who were out as such, but were considered to be way cooler and more progressive, etc. (There are a lot of reasons for all of that, and I won’t get into them here.)

      True. Story.

      Also, I so wanted that article to be written by someone with more than just good intentions and a style guide. Among other things, Jack Halberstam is not “formerly” Judith, but “also”. And referencing Stephen Ira’s former name is just irritating and unnecessary. The fact that they had to correct his name from after publication just reeks of “whoops we didn’t bother asking basic questions”.

      /endrant.

    2. chava
      chava January 11, 2013 at 4:02 pm |

      Gail has a point, LGBTQIA *is* damn clunky, and I might discourage my students from using it as well. “Queer” isn’t a [redacted: ableism] substitute to at least consider, although it isn’t as trans-inclusive as I’d like. It does, however, encapsulate the idea of gender queered from the binary norm quite nicely.

      And in defense of my alma mater, we have a rocking queer community. For academics, Heather Love is where it’s at for queer studies. She is A-MAZ-ING, and you should all go read “Feeling Backwards” right the fuck NOW.

      1. Donna L
        Donna L January 11, 2013 at 4:51 pm |

        It’s not really at all trans-inclusive, because a great many trans people (including me) don’t identify as queer. I’d call it trans erasure. Why am I not surprised?

        1. chava
          chava January 11, 2013 at 5:10 pm |

          I’m still not convinced that the long-form acronym is the best solution to the erasure trans people feel around “queer.”

          Even “the queer and trans communities” sounds better IMO. Like I said, be specific–a term like LGBTQIA is just vague terminology in disguise.

        2. Emma
          Emma January 11, 2013 at 6:18 pm |

          @chava

          “The queer and trans communities” sounds great to me. Trans concerns and queer concerns overlap, but I think conflating them (as LGBTQIA implicitly does) frequently leads to erasure, and if we were inventing our terminology from scratch it wouldn’t really occur to lump them together in the way that we do. Using “queer” and “trans” separately and putting them together when the subject requires seems elegant and doesn’t require alphabet soup for inclusiveness.

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 11, 2013 at 6:20 pm |

          a term like LGBTQIA is just vague terminology in disguise.

          “diversity”
          “community”
          “diaspora”
          “sociology”
          “feminism”
          “progressive”

          Behold, my entries in the “vague terminology in disguise!” contest. If you can define any of these to the general satisfaction of Feministe’s commenters, I’ll buy a hat and eat it.

        4. chava
          chava January 11, 2013 at 6:24 pm |

          Mac–

          You’re right–the terms on that list *are* overdetermined and difficult to pin down. And they, too get thrown around in a shitty, vague way quite a lot.

          So…not seeing your point.

        5. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 12, 2013 at 3:09 pm |

          You’re right–the terms on that list *are* overdetermined and difficult to pin down. And they, too get thrown around in a shitty, vague way quite a lot.

          So…not seeing your point.

          My point is, if someone talked about “community” in a short paper, they wouldn’t be marked down for being incomprehensible, but people using an acronym that the professor hasn’t run across could easily be, even if they explained the acronym and sourced it. Which, WTF.

      2. A.W.
        A.W. January 11, 2013 at 6:27 pm |

        “Even “the queer and trans communities” sounds better IMO. Like I said, be specific–a term like LGBTQIA is just vague terminology in disguise.”

        No. Intersex is not Queer, and neither does Asexual mean Queer. Your simplicity is erasure. “LGBTQIA” is very specific as each letter corresponds to an identifying moniker. Using ‘queer’ and ‘trans’ seperately is fine, but you’re still leaving out asexual people and intersex people if you’re replacing “LGBTQIA” with ‘trans & queer’.

        1. chava
          chava January 11, 2013 at 6:35 pm |

          Yes, they are very specific. And how often are you actually talking about all of those groups at once? Seriously, unless you are talking about the phenomenon of the acronym itself, when would you need to reference all of those acronyms at once?

          I was discussing how to specifically include trans people in addition to queer-identified people, in the context of undergraduate writing. If you were writing a paper talking about the status of intersex people in relation to the queer community, by all means, “intersex and queer communities,” etc.

        2. A.W.
          A.W. January 11, 2013 at 6:55 pm |

          “Yes, they are very specific. And how often are you actually talking about all of those groups at once?”

          I talk about them all-at-once often, particularly when discussing intersectionality (these days, with me, it’s pretty much only intersectionality) considering I’m queer, trans and asexual. I’m not intersexed (to my knowledge) but I do touch on some similar and overlapping issues with regards to reproductive and medical ‘thingies’ from my own childhood that mirror some of the more medicalized experiences.

      3. chava
        chava January 11, 2013 at 8:04 pm |

        A.W., I promise I’m not trying to be a [redacted] here, but when you have an unusual or rare set of intersecting issues, it seems more ueful to describe that particular set, rather than throw an acronym at it. Unless, of course, you’re talking about how the acronym is useful or how it came to be.

        If you ARE writing something about the intersection of queer, trans, bi, lesbian, gay, intersex, and asexual issues or communities, which would be an awesome topic, then I can sort of see where the acronym might be handy….but again, unless you’re talking about how the grouping is useful politically or how it was created (which sort of intersect)….meh.

        1. A.W.
          A.W. January 11, 2013 at 8:22 pm |

          “A.W., I promise I’m not trying to be a [redacted] here, but when you have an unusual or rare set of intersecting issues, it seems more ueful to describe that particular set, rather than throw an acronym at it.”

          I’m not describing each issue by its’ lonesome in a set, nor am I contrasting them and/or comparing them to each other. I write on how the intersections, well, intersect, how they come together and affect each other, both political and not. Of which the ‘not’ makes up a large portion.

        2. chava
          chava January 11, 2013 at 8:32 pm |

          WTF, since when on Feministe are we not to say “jargon word for male genitlia used as insult”? Did I miss the memo?

          I’m asking repectfully, whomever is modding this gig–is this not OK in this space anymore?

        3. tigtog
          tigtog January 11, 2013 at 8:45 pm | *

          I believe that the general stance is that gendered slurs are not OK, including that one.

        4. chava
          chava January 11, 2013 at 8:50 pm |

          Whatevs, your space, your rules. Just hadn’t been spanked for that one before.

  4. Donna L
    Donna L January 11, 2013 at 2:54 pm |

    Please ignore the quotation at the end; I screwed it up; this is what I meant:

    The professor, Gail Shister, who is a lesbian, had criticized several students for using “L.G.B.T.Q.” in their essays, saying it was clunky, and proposed using “queer” instead. Some students found the suggestion offensive, including Britt Gilbert, who described Ms. Shister as “unaccepting of things that she doesn’t understand.”

    Ms. Shister, reached by phone, said the criticism was strictly grammatical. “I am all about economy of expression,” she said. “L.G.B.T.Q. doesn’t exactly flow off the tongue. So I tell the students, ‘Don’t put in an acronym with five or six letters.’ ”

    Even when she says “‘Frankly, I’m both proud and envious that these young people are growing up in an age where they’re free to love who they want,’” she doesn’t seem to understand that being trans — or genderqueer — is about a lot more than that.

    1. Li
      Li January 11, 2013 at 3:45 pm |

      Academics who discipline language like that are a pet hate of mine. As long as you’re using the words correctly, I really don’t care whether the terminology you’re using meets some arbitrary style, especially when “arbitrary style” means “your marker’s personal preferences”.

      1. chava
        chava January 11, 2013 at 4:09 pm |

        It IS clunky, it isn’t a “personal preference,” and our job is to teach you how to write well and think clearly. I think the acronym reflects the lack or a word, or words in English right now to smoothly express these identities. Honestly? I would tell my students to consider a neologism, footnote it, and be done rather than persist with LGBTQIA.

        I have a comment in mod going into this more, but since things haven’t been getting out for me lately, I repost it here:

        “Gail has a point, LGBTQIA *is* damn clunky, and I might discourage my students from using it as well. “Queer” isn’t a [redacted: ableism] substitute to at least consider, perhaps with a comment in a footnote noting that you are aware the word doesn’t cover X and Y issues, and is problematic in Z way. Basically, if you’re concerned that you aren’t covering a gender identity by using the word “queer,” mention that identity specifically. I’m having a hard time conceiving of a paper where LGBTQIA is a truly necessary term.

        And in defense of my alma mater, we have a rocking queer community. For academics, Heather Love is where it’s at for queer studies. She is A-MAZ-ING, and you should all go read “Feeling Backwards” right the fuck NOW.”

        1. chava
          chava January 11, 2013 at 4:10 pm |

          oh ffs. MOD AGAIN.

        2. Li
          Li January 11, 2013 at 4:49 pm |

          I do actually agree LGBTQIA is clunky. But academics cross over the line from “teaching you to write well” to “teaching you to write in a discipline approved style and with discipline approved terminology” all the time. And that often improves student’s writing at the expense of their ability to think in radical or challenging ways. Students should think about why they might choose particular terminology, but part of reading academically, and that includes as a teacher, means understanding why the writer has chosen the terms they have. Specificity is important in too.

        3. SophiaBlue
          SophiaBlue January 11, 2013 at 5:00 pm |

          LGBTQIA is clunky (although less so in writing than in speaking) but I would think a clunky phrase is preferabelt o an inaccurate and erasing one, which as Donna pointed out “queer” would be.

        4. tigtog
          tigtog January 11, 2013 at 6:33 pm | *

          This reminds me that I’m seeing QUILTBAG used more and more frequently as shorthand for all forms of gender and sexuality diversity on various forums, often in what appears to be a tongue in cheek way, but at least it is a pronounceable acronym rather than a jumbled initialism. I’ve been reluctant to begin using it myself though, because I don’t know enough about how it is used/perceived within the various non-heteronormative communities.

        5. Donna L
          Donna L January 11, 2013 at 5:03 pm |

          See my comment above, Chava. The more I think about it, the more inappropriate I think this professor was being, in suggesting use of what can be a trans-erasing term to a bunch of students some of whom openly identify as trans. Why didn’t she just suggest “LGBT,” since that’s the more common term? Perhaps she thinks that’s clunky, too — what would your reaction be had she objected to “LGBT” as being clunky? Clunkiness is in the eye of the beholder, and opinions thereon have a lot to do with what one is used to seeing. I am, after all, old enough to remember when people complained loudly that all proposed alternatives to “man” including women, and to “he” including “she,” were clunky.

        6. Donna L
          Donna L January 11, 2013 at 5:06 pm |

          Also: I know you didn’t mean to offend, but please don’t suggest literally relegating trans issues to a footnote. That’s hits way too close to the bone for my liking.

        7. konkonsn
          konkonsn January 11, 2013 at 5:09 pm |

          @Li

          Yes. I had a white, male professor that insisted that everyone should use academic language/grammar because we needed consistency to be able to communicate and it was basically the same thing as learning a foreign language.

          I mean, I get the consistency part, but this was just bull-headed because it was like we weren’t even going to examine the language for all the issues it brings.

        8. chava
          chava January 11, 2013 at 5:13 pm |

          Donna–

          Sorry about the footnote comment; I don’t think I was being clear. I was suggesting that a student could feel free to invent a new, inclusive term and use it in their paper, footnoting why the term was appropriate and what it signified. (You could also put such an explanation in a methodology section rather than footnoting it.)

        9. chava
          chava January 11, 2013 at 5:26 pm |

          Li–

          I do actually agree LGBTQIA is clunky. But academics cross over the line from “teaching you to write well” to “teaching you to write in a discipline approved style and with discipline approved terminology” all the time. And that often improves student’s writing at the expense of their ability to think in radical or challenging ways. Students should think about why they might choose particular terminology, but part of reading academically, and that includes as a teacher, means understanding why the writer has chosen the terms they have. Specificity is important in too.

          Eh. We’re going to have to disagree on this one. I am a huge believer in teaching disciplinary forms/conventions of writing at first, then encouraging students to question and break down the problematic barriers in those conventions after they’re oriented. You have to know the rules to productively break them.

          Within reason, discipline-specific writing encourages clarity of thought with regard to your subject. Using specific terminology and, to a far lesser extent, a specific style, encourages critical thinking rather than stifling it.

          In any case, I get very tired of the “but you’re just making it up!! it’s all arbitrary!! comments wrt humanities marking.

          Donna (two):

          I am, after all, old enough to remember when people complained loudly that all proposed alternatives to “man” including women, and to “he” including “she,” were clunky.

          So, here’s the thing. “He or she” IS clunky. Just using a singular pronoun or moving into the future and using “they” as a collective reads much more smoothly. That doesn’t mean that the hysterical objections to it weren’t also based in misogyny and privilege.

        10. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 11, 2013 at 6:14 pm |

          . Students should think about why they might choose particular terminology, but part of reading academically, and that includes as a teacher, means understanding why the writer has chosen the terms they have. Specificity is important in too.

          Every single final paper I have written in college, I have had marked down for using “they” or “them” instead of “he or she”. But, you know, feel free to erase the genderqueer, etc. Since you and I agree on this point, why NOT have the whole acronym?

          Also, QUILTBAG is a nice way to sum it up. I mean, sure, the U is “undecided” or part of the “queer”, so it’s not ENTIRELY necessary, but it’s still a word, just two syllables. Unless the gay guys have some huge snit about being placed last, I don’t see why this isn’t entirely usable.

        11. Li
          Li January 11, 2013 at 6:23 pm |

          Was that meant to be a reply to me or Chava mac?

        12. chava
          chava January 11, 2013 at 6:30 pm |

          Mac–

          Yeah, well. I did too; I persisted using it and occasionally being a right cantakerous git about it. Now I suggest it when I teach. So, change, it can happen.

          I like QUILTBAG, personally; however, like Emma upthread, I think the lumping-together route of “Come now! All non-normative gender identities file into this (quilt)bag please! We thank you for your cooperation!” is not ultimately the way to go*. QUILTBAG Is great because it embeds a sense of humor about the whole thing in the term itself, but still…

          *(yes, sometimes such a grouping is useful politically. still).

        13. Li
          Li January 11, 2013 at 6:37 pm |

          Eh. We’re going to have to disagree on this one. I am a huge believer in teaching disciplinary forms/conventions of writing at first, then encouraging students to question and break down the problematic barriers in those conventions after they’re oriented. You have to know the rules to productively break them.

          The problematic barriers? The key part of that phrase is “barriers”. Typically to students who are marginalised or oppressed in some way. For instance, trans or otherwise gender diverse students. “Sorry kids but you have to put up with getting lower marks for attempting to write yourself into your own academic work until you’ve sufficiently demonstrated your willingness to toe the line” doesn’t strike me as an appealing position, no matter how institutionalised it is as an attitude amongst academics. And I’d suspect that at least one of the two academics cited in the original article would agree with me.

        14. chava
          chava January 11, 2013 at 6:44 pm |

          Oh, come on now. There’s a difference in how you mark a student trying to write themselves into their own work–which shows creativity and interest–versus someone who won’t “toe the line” of basic style and composition.

          Asking students to learn and respect basic disciplinary conventions in a class in that discipline isn’t oppression, and barriers/structures are both useful and problematic.

          Circling something and writing “hey, this is both clunky and doesn’t clearly express what you seem to be getting at,” or “hey, here’s the word that expresses this concept you’re reaching for” (ooooh, scary jargon) is not oppression. Nowhere in the article did it say that the students were marked down for their use of the term, fwiw.

          In other words, yes, there are ways you can make higher ed into an indoctrination factory, but discipline-specific writing by itself ain’t it.

        15. Li
          Li January 11, 2013 at 7:09 pm |

          Please don’t try to imply I’m anti-intellectual or even anti-jargon. I fucking love jargon. Of course, as someone whose academic work always tended towards the interdisciplinary, I tend to use it in ways that hugely frustrated lecturers (particularly in philosophy, which, DERAIL, needs, in Australia at least, to stop pretending they’re talking about the Old Testament God or Abrahamic God while they’re entirely ignoring both Islamic and Jewish theosophy).

          And look, you just said, yourself, that you routinely ignored the basic conventions in place around “they” versus “he or she”. Why are you so special that you get to buck the rules? Don’t you see the value in encouraging that kind of contestation?

        16. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 11, 2013 at 7:18 pm |

          Oh, come on now. There’s a difference in how you mark a student trying to write themselves into their own work–which shows creativity and interest–versus someone who won’t “toe the line” of basic style and composition.

          Oh, for fuck’s sake. I brought this up on an unrelated thread earlier: I have an assignment for a class this term which asks me to talk about “everything I learned about being a woman I learned from X”. Do I answer the question and divorce it from my own life as a non-cis person? I still have no fucking clue what I AM, aside from Not Cis and Not Trans. Alternatively, I could write the “real” question – how I’ve learned the parameters of my gender – and possibly wind up failing. This is just one silly IRL example; there’s thousands more.

          I think the lumping-together route of “Come now! All non-normative gender identities file into this (quilt)bag please! We thank you for your cooperation!” is not ultimately the way to go*

          As you yourself noted, I ultimately think that such a grouping is useful politically, for the same reason that “POC” or “disabled”. Sure, it covers a hell of a lot of area – I don’t have the same needs/issues/strengths that a blind but otherwise “normal” person has, or a colour-blind person, or a what have you. But it’s still useful to have a group to which to adhere, even if I’d give, say, a Deaf person spouting off the Latest Fibromyalgia Cure(TM) as big a side-eye as I would a TAB person.

        17. konkonsn
          konkonsn January 11, 2013 at 7:28 pm |

          - chava

          I may totally get this wrong, but I think that maybe this argument of academic language is a misunderstanding. If you’re saying we need basic rules, I completely agree. If you can’t use a semi-colon, don’t use one. If you can’t spell a certain word, look it up. And it’s pretty important to know how to write a proper citation page (although the constant changing of periods and italics and underlining I could do without).

          If you’re saying people need to know the absolute specifics, like always using a noun after “this/these” or you can’t insert yourself into the paper, then I disagree.

        18. chava
          chava January 11, 2013 at 7:41 pm |

          Not special, no. But I did know what rule I was breaking, and the arguments against doing so–because someone taught me.

          As huge a proponent as I am of descriptive grammar, there is a place for proscriptive grammar and usage in pegadogy, even and especially as you teach your students how to question or eventually break down that structure. Again, to do that productively, you have to know the stakes of what you are doing and the system you’re bucking against.

          I’m an interdisciplinary person too, but I have come to really value discipline-specific thought–and be much more cautious about borrowing from one to the other without really thinking through what happens when you uproot terms from their critical home. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it…just that there’s a value to specificity, in some cases.

        19. chava
          chava January 11, 2013 at 7:49 pm |

          Kokonsn—

          No, I think you’re right. I’m arguing for the “there need to be some basic rules” camp, not the “this/there +noun” thing. I would extend those “basic rules” to things like wordiness (hence my objection to LGBTQIA), though. And, although it’s a tangent point I’ve been discussing with Li–I continue to see the value in teaching a specific form of disciplinary writing, as it promotes a specific form of thinking.

          Basically, if you show up in an upper-level literature course, I expect you to know the system and the rules, and if you want to break them, awesome–but be able to tell me WHY.

        20. chava
          chava January 11, 2013 at 7:57 pm |

          Mac–

          Oh, for fuck’s sake. I brought this up on an unrelated thread earlier: I have an assignment for a class this term which asks me to talk about “everything I learned about being a woman I learned from X”. Do I answer the question and divorce it from my own life as a non-cis person? I still have no fucking clue what I AM, aside from Not Cis and Not Trans. Alternatively, I could write the “real” question – how I’ve learned the parameters of my gender – and possibly wind up failing. This is just one silly IRL example; there’s thousands more.

          That…is a [redacted] prompt, for many reasons. But I’m not sure what you’re trying to get at, here. The students in the article weren’t failed for using the acronym, they weren’t even marked down significantly (and it being Penn, it’s harder to get worse than a B+ in a lit class if you turn everything in. mmmm, privilege)

          The professor criticized them, because she though acronyms longer than three or four letters were clunky, and suggested “queer.” Now, her suggestion may have been off and ignorant, but the basic criticism stands.

          I don’t know what kind of professor you have, but I can’t imagine anyone failing you for that answer, particularly if you contacted them to discuss it. If so, they’re a terrible teacher and a worse human being.

        21. Radiant Sophia
          Radiant Sophia January 11, 2013 at 8:11 pm |

          I am incredibly unprivileged being uneducated (poor, mental illness, no college). This conversation is demonstrating that admirably.

        22. chava
          chava January 11, 2013 at 8:29 pm |

          You know, perhaps I should not have used the word redacted above, but at least two other people on this thread have, sans redaction–and that general category of word is rarely policed on Feministe.

          So, whatever. It was a “douchey” prompt, or more accurately, it was a prompt which failed to demonstrate any level of intelligence, critical thinking, or subtlety.

        23. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
          The Kittehs' Unpaid Help January 12, 2013 at 3:54 am |

          Tigtog – the only time I’ve seen QUILTBAG used in my (very limited) experience was on an old ManBoobz thread that got totally toxic – transgender members essentially attacking asexual members for daring to use the term queer at all. They had a point about historical use of the word but oy, the erasure was something ugly.

        24. DouglasG
          DouglasG January 12, 2013 at 10:21 am |

          Sorry to go back three spaces, but to Ms Kitsune:

          [Also, QUILTBAG is a nice way to sum it up. I mean, sure, the U is “undecided” or part of the “queer”, so it’s not ENTIRELY necessary, but it’s still a word, just two syllables. Unless the gay guys have some huge snit about being placed last, I don’t see why this isn’t entirely usable.]

          Entering Old Fogey mode: You remind me of the time when common usage changed over and the L moved before the G. This was a little before the ongoing debate about inclusion of the B was finally resolved, so that it came down more to a question of whether someone speaking would refer to, say, a gay-and-lesbian organization, or a lesbian-and-gay fundraiser. We needed greater lesbian visibility at the time even more than we do now, and the linguistic convenience of putting G before L in acronyms had the (I hope unintended) consequence of seeming to reflect conscious gender prioritization.

          At the time, I’d been using the two more or less interchangeably, which probably came from playing a lot of bridge and the optimum strategy of random selection holding a doubleton queen-jack. Over the course of six months to a year, “lesbian-and-gay” became almost uniform, to the point that people who said, “gay-and-lesbian” began getting sideways looks. I wondered whether rigid adherence to a particular order didn’t have a trace of Ladies First about it, but it wasn’t worth the quibble. It’s been interesting to see that quite a few people here use GLBT fairly consistently.

          As far as QUILTBAG goes, I’ve no objection to any particular ordinal placement; I just like an easily pronounced acronym.

  5. Past my expiration date
    Past my expiration date January 11, 2013 at 2:57 pm |

    I live under a rock, I have no idea what “trans-fat” is even supposed to mean (other than what’s on food labels), and I am scared to Google. And I apologize for the derail, sorry!

    1. Donna L
      Donna L January 11, 2013 at 3:01 pm |

      I think it’s used by thin people who identify as being fat (on the inside, I guess), and appropriate trans identities by calling themselves “trans fat.” Perhaps not as offensive a thing as teenage white boys who say that they’re “really” middle-aged black women, but, still, not very cool.

      1. chava
        chava January 11, 2013 at 4:14 pm |

        yeah, and rarely (by which I mean never) have I seen it used by someone with severe body dysmorphia/hatred who is in fact thin.

      2. Andie
        Andie January 11, 2013 at 4:25 pm |

        Trans-fat, if I understand what the definition, sounds like bullshit, in my opinion. I identify as a fat woman, but realistically, on the fat oppression spectrum, I put up with a lot less shit than someone who is, for example, 10 sizes bigger than me.

        Just because my stupid Jerkbrain occasionally likes to tell me I’m enormous, that doesn’t mean I get to appropriate the experiences of people who are much further up the fat-oppression scale than myself. Relatively speaking, I still benefit from some thin privilege, even if Jerkbrain doesn’t seem to think so.

        1. sable
          sable January 18, 2013 at 5:52 pm |

          @ Andie

          Trans-women, if I understand what the definition, sounds like bullshit, in my opinion. I identify as a butch woman, but realistically, on the patriarchal oppression spectrum, I put up with a lot less shit than someone who is, for example, an engineer.

          Just because my stupid Jerkbrain occasionally likes to tell me I’m too bitchy, that doesn’t mean I get to appropriate the experiences of people who are much further up the gender-oppression scale than myself. Relatively speaking, I still benefit from some gender privilege, even if Jerkbrain doesn’t seem to think so.

          I don’t know anything about trans-fat either, but I can say with a fair amount of certainty that your comment is not OK.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 18, 2013 at 6:13 pm |

          Sable,

          What in the living fuck are you quoting?

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 18, 2013 at 6:19 pm |

          I don’t know anything about trans-fat either

          Try not talking about it then? Just a novel suggestion.

        4. SophiaBlue
          SophiaBlue January 18, 2013 at 6:24 pm |

          Yes, it turns out you can make someone’s statement sound terrible if you change all the key words!

          Homework assignment: What’s the difference between “fat woman” and “butch woman”, and what’s the difference between “10 sizes bigger than me” and “engineer?”

        5. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 18, 2013 at 6:34 pm |

          Sophia, ooh, I wanna play! I’m going to use yours, okie?

          Yes, it turns out you can kill babies with fire if you like!

        6. sable
          sable January 18, 2013 at 8:48 pm |

          Try not talking about it then? Just a novel suggestion.

          That pretty much was my suggestion.

          I don’t know anything about trans-fat. I don’t know anything about trans-fat people. I don’t know anything about trans-fat issues. I don’t know if it was a term made up by the author of the article to make a point.

          Neither does Andie.

          She don’t know if being trans-fat is a deeply harrowing experience or something some kids just made up for a laugh. She don’t know if there’s people in this group, who fight depression constantly, because their physical weight doesn’t match the one in their heads.

          What I assumed was implicit, is that if you would find a close equivalent of what you’re saying aimed at a minority group you do care about harmful, then it probably is a harmful thing to say about any minority and you should refrain from saying it.

          I used transwomen and sexist oppression as the easiest equivalents to trans-fat and weight-based oppression, especially as I have seen reasonably close anti-transwomen speeches from feminists. It was an attempt at clarity in the comparison that clearly failed.

          I don’t mean to mock Andie’s problems. The appropriation argument makes little sense to me and I hoped that showing how it went in a different context would be clearer than me picking out our differing unspoken assumptions until we came to an agreed upon definition of her reasoning and where I thought it was flawed.

  6. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan January 11, 2013 at 3:08 pm |

    Not recognizing privilege as a way to self-flaggelate or to prove that you are a Good Ally by talking more about yourself (“As a white woman who is an anti-racist ally, I….”), but internally assessing how your own life and experiences have shaped your values, beliefs and vantage point, recognizing how you have been given unearned benefits, and making an effort to promote the voices and the rights of people who have been historically marginalized.

    Well said. I’m glad we’ve moved away from it a bit here, but it used to drive me up the wall when posters would preface every comment or piece with a laundry list of every possible identity they own, relevant to the discussion or not. It really did smack of a kind of smug self-flagellation. (Like, pick one or two that actually impact the discussion, if you must list things!)

  7. Amy
    Amy January 11, 2013 at 3:36 pm |

    This! This this this. All of the things. Love it.

  8. sc
    sc January 11, 2013 at 4:15 pm |

    i get it, but only sort of? i mean. i grew up a cis, queer dude in Rural Midwestern State, and eventually escaped to chicago at a relatively young age. various things did not prepare me for living in a gay men’s neighborhood (namely, down south getting catcalled was a provocation to fight. getting catcalled up here is a compliment, as i understand it? no script.), but i think the kicker was watching the pride parade and being solicited for donations to the Human Rights Campaign from very clean and polished-looking older dudes in a Jaguar convertible. why are they soliciting money from me? they’re the ones with the car that costs four years’ worth of my income.

    and yeah, there’s also the part where being a man who isn’t straight but does sleep with women simply doesn’t fit the mold of being a Gay Man In The City.

    this is probably totally off-topic personal narrative, apologies for derailing, etc, etc.

    1. SophiaBlue
      SophiaBlue January 11, 2013 at 5:05 pm |

      For what it’s worth, I don’t think this is off-topic at all.

      1. sc
        sc January 11, 2013 at 5:44 pm |

        okay, whew.

        it’s also several years in the past; i’ve gotten acclimated, first of all, and also i’m not young and cute anymore (31. so old!), so certain situations just aren’t going to happen again.

        for my first year or two, though, there was a small but certain worry based on a couple of events that i was going to get in a situation and handle it entirely the wrong way.

      2. FYouMudFlaps
        FYouMudFlaps January 11, 2013 at 11:40 pm |

        I’m jealous of your adorable chubby hippo avatar thing.

  9. CBrachyrhynchos
    CBrachyrhynchos January 11, 2013 at 4:32 pm |

    Call it the Tumblr-ization of activism: This idea that what’s most important is having a unique identity that other people must recognize in order to be made “real.” What’s hard is that there’s no bright line between where this is helpful and where it gets silly.

    I don’t think it’s just silly. Some of us middle-aged queers put a great deal of sweat, tears, and angst into discussing non-binary gender and sexuality, and creating inclusive definitions of bisexuality. And I know that gays and lesbians of my generation discussed gender binaries and living outside of expected gender roles to death.

    When people define pansexuality as being attracted to people regardless of or across the multiple dimensions of gender, that doesn’t bother me. When they define gay, lesbian, and bisexual life and activism as being concerned with “parts” or only attracted to binary-gendered individuals, it drives me up the wall.

    1. konkonsn
      konkonsn January 11, 2013 at 5:16 pm |

      I don’t think anyone has an issue with discussing or identifying these identities, but it sometimes seems like the identities are all the people discuss.

      That’s what I think Jill was getting at; in some groups, these identities become merely fashionable. Or worse, they become an excuse to say that you identify with oppressed groups without a.) examining the history of oppression and b.) actually doing anything about oppression.

  10. Anon21
    Anon21 January 11, 2013 at 5:06 pm |

    For example (although this is far from the only one): Sexuality and sexual preferences. Demisexuality, autosexuality, demi-romantic, asexuality, aromantic — all of these terms and qualifiers and descriptors describe real feelings, beliefs and sexual practices that real people have. There’s no harm in sharing experiences and building bridges and discussing how life is different when one is outside of the sexual mainstream. That’s a good thing! That’s what the internet is for! And like, for example, being child-free, there are very real social consequences for being a person whose sexuality is not standard. But being demiromantic is not in the same universe as being gay in terms of actual real-life discrimination and mistreatment.

    Yeah, I strongly agree. People who identify as asexual or demiromantic get treated as weird by the thoughtless and deal with a fair amount of social pressure to conform and to form pair bonds in a way that society expects and understands. But there’s nothing like the weight of all the hatred that gay, bi, and trans people have to deal with, in all its concrete manifestations.

    There are other identity characteristics along the same lines: unpopular, misunderstood, but not putting people at serious risk of violence, discrimination, or harassment. Atheism is one that comes to mind for attracting people who tend to be pretty privileged in most aspects of their lives, and maybe want to try the oppression thing on for size. (Not that all atheists try to claim oppression, but I know some do, since I’ve been guilty of that myself in the past.)

    1. Kessa
      Kessa January 11, 2013 at 5:24 pm |

      There are other identity characteristics along the same lines: unpopular, misunderstood, but not putting people at serious risk of violence, discrimination, or harassment. Atheism is one that comes to mind for attracting people who tend to be pretty privileged in most aspects of their lives, and maybe want to try the oppression thing on for size. (Not that all atheists try to claim oppression, but I know some do, since I’ve been guilty of that myself in the past.)

      Perhaps in some parts of the United States. I invite you to see how many days it takes you to get fired once it gets out you’re an atheist in a small town in the Bible Belt. (Of course, if you don’t go to church, you may not get hired at all.) It’s more tolerated in teenagers because it’s seen as a rebellious phase that a lot of kids go through. In adults, it means you’re an irredeemable sinner, and of course we can’t trust those at our workplace. And get ready to be shunned by family and written out of everyone’s will.

      It’s not as likely to get you killed as being QUILTBAG, and the situation is much improved, but claiming that there’s no oppression there is ridiculous.

      1. Anon21
        Anon21 January 11, 2013 at 5:44 pm |

        Perhaps in some parts of the United States. I invite you to see how many days it takes you to get fired once it gets out you’re an atheist in a small town in the Bible Belt. (Of course, if you don’t go to church, you may not get hired at all.)

        Okay, sure. But how does it get out? Not that anyone should have to hide their beliefs, but part of the reason “atheist” isn’t an especially marginalized or oppressed identity is that there’s no aspect of it that requires publicity or community. If you’re gay where that’s dangerous, even if you aren’t out, you’re either going to miserable because you can’t have a social life that conforms to your needs OR you’ll have that social life, but live in fear of being discovered. I don’t see any analogy to atheism for the publicity aspect of many marginalized identities.

        I’m not at all trying to say that no atheists in the U.S. have to deal with discriminatory or harassing bullshit. (Whether you want to call that “oppression” is, for me, a different question.) Indeed, one aspect of privilege in my life is that I’ve been able to move in social and professional environments where religion comes up very rarely. But along with people living in places where there’s legitimate fear that their atheism could cause problems for them, there’s also a fair number of people online (or were several years ago, anyway) talking as though “In God We Trust” on the money is an important civil rights issue.

        It’s not as likely to get you killed as being QUILTBAG

        That seems like an understatement. Is it all likely to get you killed in any part of the United States?

    2. CBrachyrhynchos
      CBrachyrhynchos January 11, 2013 at 5:34 pm |

      My primary objection is that often time these expressions of identity cross the line into supporting anti-gay/bi stereotypes. “Hearts not parts,” is a frequently expressed example that comes to mind because it’s not as if none of us struggled with the psychological, spiritual, and religious dimensions of our relationships.

      Atheism and other forms of religion, I’ve given up on “oppression” as a term because there seems to be too many shifting goalposts around it. Instead, I just note that there’s prejudice, stereotypes, and discrimination and that all three should be challenged.

    3. amblingalong
      amblingalong January 11, 2013 at 5:38 pm |

      There are other identity characteristics along the same lines: unpopular, misunderstood, but not putting people at serious risk of violence, discrimination, or harassment. Atheism is one that comes to mind for attracting people who tend to be pretty privileged in most aspects of their lives, and maybe want to try the oppression thing on for size. (Not that all atheists try to claim oppression, but I know some do, since I’ve been guilty of that myself in the past.)

      Fuck you. I could post links to stories of people being fired or kicked out of their parent’s houses or beaten up or murdered, or I could tell you how for most of my life being both an atheist and a POC excluded me again and again from black anti-racism organizations, leaving me with the internet as basically my only outlet, but it’s just not worth doing it again, because you’re just too stupid to talk to.

      1. amblingalong
        amblingalong January 11, 2013 at 5:39 pm |

        I can’t even write something more coherent. I’m too angry. Fuck.

      2. Anon21
        Anon21 January 11, 2013 at 5:47 pm |

        I could post links to stories of people being fired or kicked out of their parent’s houses or beaten up or murdered

        Not being glib: could you, as to murders or physical violence? I’ve honestly never heard of anything of the kind happening in the U.S., and I do listen.

        1. Asia
          Asia January 14, 2013 at 8:21 pm |

          I would point out that historically. Black civil rights institutions have ignored gay rights because of religion. Its only recently that several large black civil rights institutions released statements to the contrary. To this day many black civil rights leaders are preachers. Atheism is something that can get you disowned or hurt.

    4. hotpot
      hotpot January 11, 2013 at 6:02 pm |

      Yeah, basically you’re doing oppression olympics, here. All forms of discrimination were never equivalent, in form or degree, and after a certain point it’s fundamentally invalid to compare them. I disagree with the fundamental premise also that more dramatic forms of oppression always trump more subtle forms. I’d rather be harassed once every five years (for instance), than be treated as “a weirdo” my whole life. Making blanket statements that ‘X groups never face as serious discrimination as Y groups’ isn’t helpful, IMO.

      1. Donna L
        Donna L January 11, 2013 at 6:22 pm |

        X groups never face as serious discrimination as Y groups’ isn’t helpful, IMO.

        I agree in general. But there has to still be an ability to point out, without being charged with Oppression Olympics, that it’s skeevy and appropriative to analogize or equate — to any extent — being “trans-ethnic” or “trans-racial” or “trans-specied” or the like, to being, you know, trans.

        Those are so ludicrous that it’s an easy case, though. Are you saying that it’s wrong to point out that people who are demi-romantic or gray-sexual or even asexual don’t generally face losing their jobs or being denied housing or access to public accommodations, or being beaten or murdered, for having such identities?

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 11, 2013 at 6:28 pm |

          Yeah, you’re right. I’m somewhere around the whole demiromantic thing and I sure as fuck don’t feel persecuted. Also, as a person who hits literally one privilege on the privilege wheel (not an atheist), I do have to say that I don’t feel nearly as persecuted for, say, not bearing children or not being Christian as I do for being disabled or in a same-sex relationship.

        2. hotpot
          hotpot January 11, 2013 at 6:49 pm |

          I’m saying it’s too simple to say “asexuals don’t their jobs for being asexual, so how dare they say they are oppressed!” Life doesn’t work in such a simplistic manner. Being asexual can result in other negative life experiences, which, in turn, can result in losing a job, yes. Or losing a career. Or not having the housing you otherwise would have had.

          That is not to say it’s as bad as being trans.

          And making comparisons is always risky and potentially invalid for that reason. I’m not here to defend ‘LGBTQIA’, but neither do I think that every gay is more oppressed on account of being gay than every genderqueer person is, on account of being genderqueer. I wonder where this idea comes from that the language of oppression belongs to certain groups, and that there’s a threshold of oppression that you have to pass to use this language. Who gets to decide who gets to use what language, and where is the criteria for this?

        3. moviemaedchen
          moviemaedchen January 11, 2013 at 7:14 pm |

          Yes, hotpot, exactly. Plus, that sort of discussion fails to take into account that one potential reason asexual people (for example) aren’t being murdered left and right for being ace is because most of society doesn’t even know asexuality exists. And sure, not being murdered is better than being murdered, but being repeatedly told implicitly and explicitly that you don’t exist? Has fucking negative psychological consequences, just to start with.

          So, the question of visibility in these discussions needs to take into account that some identities are simply not on most people’s radar screens, instead of being actually tolerated. Bisexuality, pansexuality and the like have similar problems – including from within the sexual and gender minority community.

    5. amblingalong
      amblingalong January 11, 2013 at 6:15 pm |

      Oh, and also, fuck you for this:

      Atheism is one that comes to mind for attracting people who tend to be pretty privileged in most aspects of their lives, and maybe want to try the oppression thing on for size.

      Never heard the whole ‘all atheists are rich white men’ before thing! FFS.

      Not being glib: could you, as to murders or physical violence? I’ve honestly never heard of anything of the kind happening in the U.S., and I do listen.

      Ten seconds of googling found me a couple dozen articles, so I’m not sure I believe this is sincere. Jose Ramirez was a US infantryman killed by his friends when he came out as an atheist; dozens of other soldiers have shared stories of hazing, including beatings, for not identifying as Christian. Damon Fowler, a high school student, was beaten up at school and received death threats for opposing a prayer at graduation; thousands of atheist high school students routinely report similar bullying. I could go on and on but listing individuals who are attacked for atheism isn’t going to convince anyone who doesn’t believe it’s a problem (I mean, I only have a few names of people killed or attacked for being black memorized). The fact of the matter is distrust and hatred of atheists is both more widespread and more socially acceptable than nearly any other group, as reported in survey after survey after survey.

      1. Li
        Li January 11, 2013 at 6:25 pm |

        The fact of the matter is distrust and hatred of atheists is both more widespread and more socially acceptable than nearly any other group, as reported in survey after survey after survey.

        Citation needed.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 11, 2013 at 6:30 pm |

          Citation really fucking needed, amblingalong, and PLEASE remember that the US is not the world. Also, Islamophobia is a thing, and much more and worse of a thing.

        2. amblingalong
          amblingalong January 11, 2013 at 6:38 pm |

          PLEASE remember that the US is not the world.

          You’re right, I should have clarified the polls I was looking at were all done in the US.

          Also, Islamophobia is a thing, and much more and worse of a thing.

          Nope. Atheists are less trusted than Muslims by a majority of Americans.

          Articles:

          http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=1786422&page=1

          http://www.gallup.com/poll/26611/some-americans-reluctant-vote-mormon-72yearold-presidential-candidates.aspx

          http://atheism.about.com/od/atheistbigotryprejudice/a/Atheists-Trusted-Less-Than-Rapists.htm

          http://www.alternet.org/story/153194/why_are_people_still_afraid_of_atheism?page=entire

        3. amblingalong
          amblingalong January 11, 2013 at 6:40 pm |

          Found one of the the actual studies, not just the reporting; I thought it was behind a paywall, but it’s available here. http://www.soc.umn.edu/~hartmann/files/atheist%20as%20the%20other.pdf

        4. amblingalong
          amblingalong January 11, 2013 at 6:43 pm |

          And dammit, I am so sick of having to justify the claim that atheists experience oppression again and again and again, even in social-justice-friendly spaces.

        5. Anon21
          Anon21 January 11, 2013 at 6:45 pm |

          Nope. Atheists are less trusted than Muslims by a majority of Americans.

          Okay, but Islamophobia also has a lot of violent aspects, a lot of defacing of mosques, a lot of threats to daily life. Atheism, I’m sorry, still doesn’t. I looked into Jose Ramirez; I’d say from what’s public information that it is possible that he was killed because he told some violent Christian asshole he was an atheist, and also possible that he was killed for some other reason. Another case I found through further googling was James Doyle, but there, the evidence was even thinner.

          And even if you can find one or two such cases where the motiviation was clear, it doesn’t really hold a candle to the scope of what American Muslims face. Which is not to say it isn’t horrible and wrong, but it is to say that atheists have much less reason to worry about being targeted for violence on the basis of their (lack of) religious beliefs than Muslims do… even if people self-report meaner attitudes about atheists in polls.

        6. amblingalong
          amblingalong January 11, 2013 at 6:49 pm |

          I’m going to go do something else for a while because I have that ragey heart-in-throat feeling that usually precedes me saying things to people I end up regretting, but I’ll be back and I actually would enjoy talking about this with you both (Li and Macavitykitsune). Sorry for yelling at you, Anon21’s post really set me off.

        7. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan January 11, 2013 at 6:52 pm |

          Cosigning amblingalong; atheism and atheists are being misrepresented and misunderstood right on this blog, and yet it’s not an axis of oppression? Religious privilege, y’all haz it.

        8. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 11, 2013 at 6:55 pm |

          Cosigning amblingalong; atheism and atheists are being misrepresented and misunderstood right on this blog, and yet it’s not an axis of oppression? Religious privilege, y’all haz it.

          Yes, Bagelsan, asking amblingalong to remember that the world is not the US was clearly me displaying my religious privilege. Even though amblingalong himself admitted it immediately. Even though I made no pretense to being an authority on the US.

          For fuck’s sake. Be gracious enough to note when you’re talking about ONE GODDAMN COUNTRY and not the world. I mean, seriously, the US isn’t the world, as dearly as “y’all” would love to believe it.

        9. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 11, 2013 at 7:00 pm |

          Amblingalong, I’m really curious how it breaks down in the US; India is a whole other matter, obviously! With the racial breakdown/political situation being so very different. Also, religion simply isn’t encoded into Indian legal stuff the way it is in the US (homg the outrage that would ensue if someone wasn’t given a job explicitly for being Muslim!), so I pretty much don’t make assumptions on how USians react to religion.

          Still a bit o_O on atheism being the Big Bad, though. I just…for reals? Atheism? THAT’S the hill people want to die on? I mean, I know exactly one non-jerkass atheist IRL, but I’ve never extrapolated from the asshole atheists I’ve met to atheism itself, any more than the decentralised religions (Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism etc). I have…different feelings about centralised religions/pseudoreligions like Catholicism, Mormonism and Scientology, but eh.

        10. Li
          Li January 11, 2013 at 7:15 pm |

          As an atheist raised by an atheist and an agnostic, albeit not one from the United States of Universality, I thought that asking for citations was actually kind of a part of the critical thinking that’s meant to underlie my non-belief. Obviously it’s just evidence that I’m religiously-privileged though.

        11. amblingalong
          amblingalong January 11, 2013 at 7:21 pm |

          albeit not one from the United States of Universality

          I apologize for that, seriously. I was angry and I was thinking about my own experiences, and I wasn’t as careful as I usually try to be.

        12. amblingalong
          amblingalong January 11, 2013 at 7:23 pm |

          Yes, Bagelsan, asking amblingalong to remember that the world is not the US was clearly me displaying my religious privilege.

          Pretty sure that Bagelsan was talking to the people saying atheists weren’t ever oppressed, not your point that I wasn’t prefacing my statistics the way I should have been.

        13. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 11, 2013 at 7:25 pm |

          Yeah, Li, you’re totally privileged! What could possibly assail a straight white religious neurotypical guy like you?

        14. Li
          Li January 11, 2013 at 7:49 pm |

          Well, one of those is accurate and one of them is accurate-ish (I don’t self-describe as being neuroatypical but I get that other people may consider me to qualify).

        15. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan January 11, 2013 at 8:25 pm |

          Citation really fucking needed, amblingalong, and PLEASE remember that the US is not the world. Also, Islamophobia is a thing, and much more and worse of a thing.

          Mac, I was addressing literally every part of your comment aside from the US != world bit. “Citation ‘really fucking’ needed”? Islamophobia is a much worse thing? Could you be more dismissive of atheists who are telling you that (non) religion is an axis of oppression?

          Seriously, unusually assholish of you.

        16. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan January 11, 2013 at 8:32 pm |

          And Li, as an atheist yourself I’m frankly surprised that you aren’t familiar with the surveys amblingalong cited; I certainly had heard of them. Maybe asking for a citation should have followed a google search.

        17. Radiant Sophia
          Radiant Sophia January 11, 2013 at 8:35 pm |

          I’m neither an atheist, nor Muslim, so take this with a grain of salt.

          In the U.S., only one of these groups has the president, commander-in-chief of our military, ever said “Aren’t citizens”, and “shouldn’t be treated like normal folk”.

        18. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 11, 2013 at 8:38 pm |

          Mac, I was addressing literally every part of your comment aside from the US != world bit. “Citation ‘really fucking’ needed”? Islamophobia is a much worse thing? Could you be more dismissive of atheists who are telling you that (non) religion is an axis of oppression?

          Um, actually, since amblingalong appeared to be asserting that US=world (which he since amended), yes, I took massive exception to his assertion that being an atheist is the worst evar. I don’t know what it’s like in Rome 2.0, but if you fail to make the distinction, then yes, I’m going to assume that you’re talking about the world in general and respond accordingly.

          If you choose to conclude that less oppressed=not oppressed, you’re deliberately misreading me. I by no means said that atheists were NOT oppressed; I merely pointed out that they were not, worldwide, the MOST oppressed. (And btw, I pushed back at Anon21 too.)

          And before you decide to take up the Islamophobia thing, worldwide, for fuck’s sake, you might want to look at which countries yours is currently bombing the living daylights out of before you get into that fight with me or anyone else who happens to be brown and Asian here.

        19. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan January 11, 2013 at 10:56 pm |

          Oh please. Amblingalong gave you guys the citations, you all went “wah,” and now you’re just moving goalposts. Now I need to wait for the “War on Terror” to stop before I can discuss the similarities and differences with how Muslims and Atheists are treated? Bullshit. Ambling made a claim, you doubted it, I agreed with it, and he backed it up. Be pissed off at that chain of events if you want but don’t act like a douche to me.

        20. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 11, 2013 at 11:28 pm |

          Oh please. Amblingalong gave you guys the citations, you all went “wah,” and now you’re just moving goalposts.

          I am literally saying the same thing I said at the beginning of the thread: what is true in the US is one thing, what is true worldwide is another; pls to not conflate the two.

          Now I need to wait for the “War on Terror” to stop before I can discuss the similarities and differences with how Muslims and Atheists are treated?

          Yes, because saying “worldwide the situation is different” is exactly the same as saying we can never discuss a thing ever, completely ignoring where things are being discussed – these things even! – right below you. Where you can read, if you can scroll.

          Ambling made a claim, you doubted it, I agreed with it, and he backed it up.

          I’m sure you mean “Ambling made a claim, you doubted it its international application, I agreed with it made random accusations about your statements that are patently untrue, and he backed it up apologised and clarified, whereupon you agreed that he had superior knowledge of the US.”

          Like…seriously? All over the rest of the thread I’m arguing X and you’re telling me I’m arguing Y, because… what? You chose to interpret something in a way that it seriously doesn’t support, that would be out of character for me if I DID say it – which you yourself said – and in direct opposition to everything I said to amblingalong himself. I’m honestly not sure what the fuck is so douchey about saying that a situation’s different worldwide from one particular country; I mean, what’s next? Me insisting Hindus are a global majority and the world’s symbol is the Indian flag?

        21. Li
          Li January 12, 2013 at 12:35 am |

          And Li, as an atheist yourself I’m frankly surprised that you aren’t familiar with the surveys amblingalong cited; I certainly had heard of them.

          I’d heard of the survey on presidential voting. I hadn’t heard of the 2006 study. You’ll forgive me if I don’t actually have an encyclopedic knowledge of studies on attitudes to atheism in the United States given that I 1. DON’T LIVE IN THE US and 2. find a great deal of movement atheism irritating because of the frequency of exactly the kinds of behaviours you are exhibiting right now and thus don’t actively seek out atheist analyses in the same way I do other aspects of US politics.

        22. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 12, 2013 at 12:40 am |

          You’ll forgive me if I don’t actually have an encyclopedic knowledge of studies on attitudes to atheism in the United States given that I 1. DON’T LIVE IN THE US

          What, don’t all the good atheists follow the Empire’s Facebook feed?

        23. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve January 12, 2013 at 3:31 pm |

          Citation really fucking needed, amblingalong, and PLEASE remember that the US is not the world. Also, Islamophobia is a thing, and much more and worse of a thing.

          Mac, as you point out, the US is not the world. Surely you are not saying that in a Muslim country like Iran, Saudi Arabia, or Pakistan, Islamophobia is a ‘much more and worse of a thing’ than persecution of atheists?

        24. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve January 12, 2013 at 3:32 pm |

          Apologies (in advance, it’s still in mod) for the above comment mac, I didn’t see you addressed this very issue below…

        25. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 12, 2013 at 3:53 pm |

          Mac, as you point out, the US is not the world. Surely you are not saying that in a Muslim country like Iran, Saudi Arabia, or Pakistan, Islamophobia is a ‘much more and worse of a thing’ than persecution of atheists?

          No worries, Steve, I admit that comment alone might have given that impression. That said, holy shit, sectarian Muslim violence is pretty fucking bad too – I mean, 120-odd killed in Quetta just a couple of days ago, in primarily Shia areas… shit’s complicated, man.

    6. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune January 11, 2013 at 7:03 pm |

      Atheism is one that comes to mind for attracting people who tend to be pretty privileged in most aspects of their lives, and maybe want to try the oppression thing on for size. (Not that all atheists try to claim oppression, but I know some do, since I’ve been guilty of that myself in the past.)

      Keeping in mind, of course, that if you ignore the US and its Dawkins-fawning SWAG horde of screeching atheists, there’s a lot of places in the world where atheism can get you in serious and massive shit. Not to mention what amblingalong said about intersectionality, which, the accuracy of his judgment of levels of oppression aside (I honestly don’t know neough to have an opinion there) makes perfect sense to me.

      1. amblingalong
        amblingalong January 11, 2013 at 7:14 pm |

        Not to mention what amblingalong said about intersectionality, which, the accuracy of his judgment of levels of oppression aside (I honestly don’t know neough to have an opinion there) makes perfect sense to me.

        I need to self-correct; I don’t want to make claims about who experiences the most oppression (for lots of obvious reasons, not least that I am extremely privileged along some axes). I do think it’s fair to say by one metric of oppression- the degree of distrust people have due to your identity- atheists lose pretty badly in the US.

        Sorry, I was typing really fast and my response was fueled more by anger than introspection.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 11, 2013 at 7:28 pm |

          Urgh, I didn’t mean to imply you were playing oppression olympics, sorry!

      2. Anon21
        Anon21 January 11, 2013 at 7:16 pm |

        Keeping in mind, of course, that if you ignore the US and its Dawkins-fawning SWAG horde of screeching atheists, there’s a lot of places in the world where atheism can get you in serious and massive shit.

        You’re quite right, of course. Discrimination and ill-treatment of this particular sort can’t really be separated very much from its social context; Muslims in America are targeted for hate crimes on the basis of their religion, while (Sunni) Muslims in Saudi Arabia aren’t. I should definitely have specified that I was talking about the U.S. here; and as to “risk of discrimination and harassment” (still not convinced on violence), I should have considered that my experience isn’t everyone’s, and that there are certain parts of the country where discrimination and harassment of non-believers comes with the territory.

        Not to mention what amblingalong said about intersectionality, which, the accuracy of his judgment of levels of oppression aside (I honestly don’t know neough to have an opinion there) makes perfect sense to me.

        Right again; I should have said so above, but I definitely have no experience of atheism interacting with a marginalized racial identity for which evangelical Christianity is the norm. I can see how that would be really alienating, even as I can’t understand (because I haven’t experienced it).

    7. PrettyAmiable
      PrettyAmiable January 11, 2013 at 7:52 pm |

      Atheism is one that comes to mind for attracting people who tend to be pretty privileged in most aspects of their lives, and maybe want to try the oppression thing on for size.

      Really? You know people who were like, “I don’t believe in God” just “to try the oppression thing on for size,” then once they had their fill, were like, “JUST KIDDING, neat experiment, but I totes believe in XYZ higher power?” I have literally never met anyone in my life who decided that there wasn’t a God and then jumped back on the believing express.

      Listen, I’m so effing privileged that the atheism thing barely impacts my life, but I find your claim a little suspect.

      1. Anon21
        Anon21 January 11, 2013 at 8:26 pm |

        I meant: privileged people who play up the “oppressed” aspects of atheism, then drop that once they get tired of it. Not people who play at being an atheist, then become religious.

        1. PrettyAmiable
          PrettyAmiable January 11, 2013 at 8:42 pm |

          Ohh. Playing the “atheist” card. Totally different than any other oppression ever.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 12, 2013 at 2:43 am |

          Anon, I have never seen anyone do that. And I’ve seen some pretty asshole behaviour from atheists on the internet and off.

      2. Bagelsan
        Bagelsan January 11, 2013 at 8:29 pm |

        Doncha know that one’s (lack of) religious belief is totes a phase that only privileged people go through? It couldn’t possibly stem from some kind of actual thoughtful meaningful decision! Lol!

      3. tigtog
        tigtog January 11, 2013 at 8:41 pm | *

        I read Anon21 as claiming something rather different, in that some atheists appear to want to stake out a strong position on atheists as an oppressed class, not that they’re not sincere about the atheism itself.

        * * *

        Obviously atheists are often persecuted in various cultures around the world, but not to the same degree everywhere, and imprisonment and execution is far more overtly oppressive than more subtle forms of discrimination, but at least it’s undeniably occurring while the more subtle marginalisations are often regarded as imaginary by those who are not their targets. The particular thing I find interesting in the USA is that it appears that atheists regularly top the lists of most mistrusted social identity there, but not necessarily most hated. Mostly that mistrust seems to manifest in forms of exclusion rather than more active persecutions (and that is probably due to the correlation between atheism and higher education (and the base correlations between education level and socio-economic status), but exclusionary practices are harms as well, as feminists well know – exclusion constrains opportunities.

    8. Alexandra
      Alexandra January 12, 2013 at 3:07 am |

      So I’m a “Left-Coast” liberal atheist. Though I lived in the midwest as a child, including small-town, rural Ohio and Colorado Springs, neither of which were atheist-friendly towns, I spent my adolescence and all of my adulthood so far on either the East or West coasts of the USA, places where it is about as easy to be an atheist as it gets in this country.

      I do have some memories from childhood of catching flack for being a nonbeliever – a girl in my kindergarten class telling me I was going to hell, getting in trouble at a religious daycamp that my parents put me in over spring break for not wanting to sing about the Baby Jesus, etc. But for the most part these were mild, and because I was from a family of atheists, and because all of my grandparents, aunts, and uncles were nonbelievers, atheism was just another thing that made my family cohere.

      Particularly living on the coast as a white, educated, privileged family, it can be very easy to forget one’s atheism. I do not think about being an atheist day to day the way I do about, say, being a woman — though in many ways it is just as central to my identity as a human, because it has profoundly shaped my moral sensibilities, it is not something that changes the way people perceive me unless I speak openly and at length about my religious persuasions.

      But believe me, you get pushback as an atheist if you protest having to mouth religious platitudes or support religious rituals pro forma. I have family members who have used Alcoholics Anonymous, and who have left Alcoholics Anonymous, because despite all the talk of a higher power, the group is essentially secularized Christianity with a side of stoicism. There are few options for recovery in this country which are not based on the AA model – that’s a big problem for people in my family. I used to attend school events at Cranston High School, and I saw that prayer every time I attended – and every time, it bothered me! I never spoke up about it, but another student did eventually – and she got death threats by phone and in the mail.

      In some parts of the country, though, it’s not enough to be “quiet” about your atheism – you are expected to demonstrate adherence to a religion, typically Christianity, often a Protestant denomination. One of my parents saw a lot of this in Colorado Springs, where he worked for the government, and nevertheless faced a great deal of pressure to become a born-again Christian or otherwise support and endorse Evangelicals. You cannot be a closeted atheist because avowed political Christianity is required.

      1. Karak
        Karak January 12, 2013 at 11:00 am |

        Yeah–but all this is also true for nonChristians trying to negotiate those places/situations. That’s not unique to atheism. It’s true for people who are Pagan, Wiccan, or Satanist as well.

        I think it can be frustrating and lonely, it can open you up for harassment, and, on some occasions, even be an excuse for violence, but nowhere near how being gay or honestly Muslim would be (in the US, talking only about the US.)

        I just can’t get behind atheistic oppression being the next big fight in the US. I have too many others I genuinely think take priority in terms of the level of danger and discrimination people face.

        1. EG
          EG January 12, 2013 at 12:42 pm |

          I just can’t get behind atheistic oppression being the next big fight in the US.

          Seriously, has anybody claimed that it is?

        2. Donna L
          Donna L January 12, 2013 at 2:43 pm |

          Yeah–but all this is also true for nonChristians trying to negotiate those places/situations.

          Although Jews are certainly subject to proselytization efforts in communities like that — and I’ve had to deal with that kind of thing in a minor way when I was out of the New York City area — I think it’s a lot easier to say to people like that, in words or substance, “fuck off, I’m Jewish,” than to say that as an atheist. I still remember that during one of my earliest prolonged stays in a hospital, when I was 10, the child in the bed next to mine, who was extremely ill, was Roman Catholic, and one night a nurse was praying with this child, and she turned to me and asked me if I wanted to pray, and for some reason, instead of just saying I was Jewish, I said something like “no thank you, I’m an atheist,” and I’ll never forget the look of absolute horror and disbelief on her face, and her repeatedly saying that she didn’t understand how such a thing was possible. I might as well have confessed to being possessed by Satan. (And this was not at Catholic hospital, by the way.)

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 12, 2013 at 3:06 pm |

          Although Jews are certainly subject to proselytization efforts in communities like that — and I’ve had to deal with that kind of thing in a minor way when I was out of the New York City area — I think it’s a lot easier to say to people like that, in words or substance, “fuck off, I’m Jewish,” than to say that as an atheist.

          Haha, how countries differ! Atheists in India seem to just get avoided like the devil, while identifying as Hindu just makes the missionaries follow you around for ages talking about how Krishna is actually sourced in the Jesus myth (uh, whatever, douchecanoe) and misquoting scriptures at me that I literally knew by heart – translations and all – before I was six. Hindus who desperately want to push fundamentalist Hinduism are equally bad, too. I’ve had to lie and identify as atheist just to get people to shut up sometimes.

        4. amblingalong
          amblingalong January 12, 2013 at 4:56 pm |

          I just can’t get behind atheistic oppression being the next big fight in the US. I have too many others I genuinely think take priority in terms of the level of danger and discrimination people face.

          In what world do we have to pick a single oppression and then ignore the rest? And how is this OK to say, really? I mean, there aren’t very many violent anti-disabled hate crimes in the US as compared to- say- anti-gay violence, but nobody here (I hope) would ever claim “I just can’t see ableism as that big a deal.”

          Yeah, actually, I’m pretty sure this is you being a [redacted].

          I think it can be frustrating and lonely, it can open you up for harassment, and, on some occasions, even be an excuse for violence, but nowhere near how being gay or honestly Muslim would be (in the US, talking only about the US.)

          Unless you are a gay ex-Muslim atheist or gay ex-atheist Muslim, you need to stop doing this.

        5. amblingalong
          amblingalong January 12, 2013 at 5:04 pm |

          Two corrections:

          So after I used the example of anti-disabled hate crimes I kept digging into the stats I used (FBI hate crimes reporting) and found a lot of critiques on systemic under-reporting of anti-disabled hate crimes; I have no idea if that underreporting is worse than the underreporting for other hate crimes, but I thought it was worth mentioning. Regardless, I think the point stands; you can insert a lot of other minorities/oppressed identities into the argument.

          And this should read:

          Yeah, actually, I’m pretty sure this is you being a dick ignorant.

        6. Computer Soldier Porygon
          Computer Soldier Porygon January 12, 2013 at 5:25 pm |

          I think it’s a lot easier to say to people like that, in words or substance, “fuck off, I’m Jewish,” than to say that as an atheist.

          The Christians I grew up with (in east Texas) were pretty much not down with most non-Christians, but got really thrilled about Jewish people (granted, there aren’t very many down there). I remember my grandmother coming home once after a Jewish woman joined her tennis club, and she told me she was SO excited to get to hang out with ‘one of God’s chosen.’

          Although the questions about my then-boyfriend’s kippah at prom were… something else.

          —-

          I had a surprisingly easy time of it when I started identifying as an atheist. I called myself agnostic for a long time as a teenager and I feel like that’s seen as more of an… open door? Like, it’s not seen as a sturdy belief, you ‘don’t know,’ so you can be changed. Once I started calling myself an atheist, I became a total write-off, lost cause or whatever.

        7. Alexandra
          Alexandra January 13, 2013 at 1:08 am |

          Oh and one more thing that is really important and I totally left out —

          part of the reason atheism has never been a central part of my life is that I was raised by a secular family. My parents are atheists, their parents were agnostic or atheist, my only sibling is an atheist. I have no living relatives who are religious. The atheists I know who were raised by religious parents (especially those with very devout or conservative religious parents) tend to identify much more strongly with atheism as a movement, way of life, or axis of oppression in their lives. If the community you were born into and raised in is profoundly opposed to the philosophy or religious/areligious attitudes you’ve come to embrace, life is a lot different than it was for me and mine.

  11. hotpot
    hotpot January 11, 2013 at 5:13 pm |

    So what is the difference between “systematic oppression” and just a normal part of being treated poorly due to some personal characteristic?

    I mean, identification is incredibly important. Often, simply by identifying conclusively that a behavior is oppressive, the oppression can be successfully fought against.

    And I don’t see how being non-mainstream isn’t inherently oppressive to some significant degree. Prejudice + power? A lot of people are prejudiced towards non-mainstream identities precisely because they don’t understand them. Ignorance is one of the founts of prejudice, and there’s no better way to guarantee that a lot of people will be ignorant towards something, than to have it be non-mainstream and unidentified. Meanwhile, society was built for the mainstream. The culture, the infrastructure, the social and economic systems; and it’s a great power to have all of these things catering towards you if you are mainstream. It’s a form of power to have people who relate to you. It’s a form of power to have the language that you can use to describe your experience, which is often denied to those who aren’t in the mainstream. I can’t think of any movement against oppression that didn’t begin with the people being oppressed recognizing the singularity of their position.

    Perhaps I’m missing the point entirely, though, I don’t know (I’m not a huge tumblr reader). I do think it’s a problem when a lot of people online fetishize oppression and try to invent oppression that isn’t really there, just for its own sake. Maybe I’m trying to say the general concept seems valid, even if it’s being grossly abused in some quarters.

    1. EG
      EG January 11, 2013 at 7:06 pm |

      So what is the difference between “systematic oppression” and just a normal part of being treated poorly due to some personal characteristic?

      Whether or not that treatment meaningfully affects your life-chances. Example: I have a foot of an unusual size–not extra big, not extra small, just weirdly sized. As a result, I have a very difficult time finding shoes, and can rarely if ever take advantage of sales, etc. This is not oppression. It’s just a quirk of life.

      1. hotpot
        hotpot January 11, 2013 at 8:02 pm |

        Agreed. My attitude towards identification is generally the more the better (for reasons explained above), so long as it represents something real and significant. Part of the confusion is that there’s a lot of frivolous stuff out there, but that doesn’t mean it’s all frivolous.

      2. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune January 12, 2013 at 3:56 pm |

        Example: I have a foot of an unusual size–not extra big, not extra small, just weirdly sized. As a result, I have a very difficult time finding shoes, and can rarely if ever take advantage of sales, etc.

        OMG WEIRDFOOT TWINS!

        I have bizarrely flipper-shaped feet. Lovely for when I’m swimming, utterly annoying whenever I’m not, and I have never found a shoe that wasn’t either loose at the heel or tight at the toe as a consequence of the shape. Unless I just decide to get men’s shoes. That works.

    2. Alexandra
      Alexandra January 12, 2013 at 2:35 am |

      I am not an academic or political theorist, and unlike some people upthread, my time in academia has not been spent in disciplines like women’s studies, queer studies, black studies, or even sociology/antrhopology where I might have learned more about this.

      But I think one useful way to think about it is that the starkest kinds of oppression are inherently political. White supremacy is political because it defines as citizens white people (for most of history, white men) and defines as non-citizens, or even as slaves or sub-human, people who are not white. Patriarchy is political because it denies the right to vote, to sit on a jury, to hold elected office to women. Homophobia (we really need a better word) is political because it denies people their right to form recognized family units with all attendant rights and privileges, and to live lives openly and honestly in the community. I could give more examples, but honestly I’m afraid I would botch them.

      I think it’s important to keep in mind this political distinction because it illuminates the power side of power + prejudice. Many of the “in-between” issues like, say, being child-free or being asexual are particularly difficult for people if those people are, for instance, women – being a child-free woman has political ramifications if you live in, oh, Nazi Germany, where “kinder, kuche kirche” is the motto of the state – that is, kitchen, church, children. Being asexual is a big deal if a woman’s value in society is defined as being the sexual property of a man who will use her to have children.

      I was (am) a nerd growing up. I had few friends. I got bullied. It was tough. The worst aspects were when my nerdiness made me a target for, say, sexual harassment. But frankly there is nothing political about really, really liking books about dragons. The state has no interest in my love of dragons, one way or another. Nobody is going to confiscate my Anne McCaffrey or Robert Jordan novels, except maybe my mother if we’re still in a world where I’m 14 and reading past my bedtime.

      1. hotpot
        hotpot January 13, 2013 at 12:42 am |

        Alexandra,

        I see the distinction you’re making, and I agree that it applies, but at the same time, I think it’s something that we need to be able to get past. When there are very few if any legal mechanisms of oppression against non-white, non-male, (and even in a few states non-heterosexual), that doesn’t mean racism, sexism, and homophobia suddenly disappear. If anything, our task becomes harder, because it’s about achieving comprehensive equality, and not changing a set of specific formal rules.

        I disagree that asexuality is only a big deal if the State perpetuates and ideology that says you should be used by a man to have children. Ideology doesn’t only come from the state. Take this excerpt from Alyssa Royse’s infamous article:

        we need to stop denying that we sell sex as the reason for everything — from what car to buy, to why to work out to what clothes will help us “get ahead.” In our world, sex is the end game. Period. Anything shy of sex is quitting, or worse, losing.

        We use other’s people’s assessment of whether or not we are “hot” to feel good about ourselves. After all, the question we ask when we get dressed is “how do I look,” not “how do I feel?” And “look” in this case is meant to mean, “Will other people find me attractive?”

        Magazines and web sites feature an endless barrage of “How to get your guy or girl to do _____” and most of it is based on using looks and/or sex to get something.

        Is this not a statement of the ultimate recognition by society of only sexual individuals, and the ultimate privileging of being sexual as the standard by to which a person’s worth is judged by society? Royse endorses this view, stating that it doesn’t need to change, probably without even realizing that she’s endorsing a cultural ideology that categorically excludes and marginalizes asexuals. But the thing is, as a descriptive statement about huge swaths of society, it is pretty accurate. This is not an ideology that originates from the State but originates from the Culture.

        frankly there is nothing political about really, really liking books about dragons. The state has no interest in my love of dragons, one way or another. Nobody is going to confiscate my Anne McCaffrey or Robert Jordan novels

        Being a nerd, and begin into books about dragons and reading these authors is not out of the mainstream at all. Perhaps they were when you were growing up, but they are very bad examples for today.

        Just to be very clear, I am not saying that things don’t reach another level when the State gets involved. But I think it’s a mistake to draw a State/Non-State distinction and say that only State-originated exclusion can be political, and therefore deal in power.

        1. Alexandra
          Alexandra January 13, 2013 at 1:05 am |

          I was writing sloppily last night, and I can see why you were assuming that I was conflating politics with state action; I do see the difference, and I also think that ongoing discrimination, even when that discrimination is not sanctioned or is even prohibited by the law, remains political. I would like to use political in the broad sense of a polity as any group of people living together in a community based on common agreement about how that community should be structured and governed.

          Please, pour some knowledge on me. There are vast, vast bodies of literature of which I have only the most peripheral knowledge.

          I used the nerd example because I spent a great deal of time in high school feeling like I was alone because of my interests. I felt separated from my peers. I was also bullied in that casual high school way that mixes total idiocy (getting made fun of for having the wrong sort of backpack or reading too much) with real bigotry (being called a c*nt or other slurs). Also, honestly, there are degrees of nerdiness – on one end you have people who like Batman movies, and on the other end you have people whose most important experiences are online fandoms or otherkin/furry communities. I was somewhere in between.

        2. hotpot
          hotpot January 13, 2013 at 1:18 am |

          There are vast, vast bodies of literature of which I have only the most peripheral knowledge.

          You, me and seven billion other people ;) Seriously though, I never took a class in womens’, LGBT, queer, black studies, or sociology or anthropology either (although I was a political science major), so I’m probably at least as ignorant as you.

          I used the nerd example because I spent a great deal of time in high school feeling like I was alone because of my interests. I felt separated from my peers. I was also bullied in that casual high school way that mixes total idiocy (getting made fun of for having the wrong sort of backpack or reading too much) with real bigotry (being called a c*nt or other slurs).

          I feel you. I was a complete nerd in high school and majorly bullied in middle school, which carried over to have a big impact on me in high school. In so much as high school is a miniature world, there is a kind of miniature politics in it. And we’ve even seen this have deadly consequences when teens with suicidal tendencies, who treat high school as the world, are bullied.

  12. Kasabian
    Kasabian January 11, 2013 at 8:32 pm |

    I was nodding my head in agreement along with this.

    People can identify however they want. People can claim oppression, stereotyping, and bullying. The problem comes in two-fold, one where simply identifying becomes an excuse for not taking any action, and two when it leads to bickering and in-fighting about who is ‘more oppressed’. We all have talents, we all have resources, do we need to argue about where they are allocated? As long as your actively pursuing social justice, isn’t that the most important thing? Do we need to have a big score-board of social justice?

    …Actually, note to self app idea: social justice scoreboard: award points and compete with your friends to see who can do the most good in your community!

    As a side note, trans-ethnic is a real thing, co-opted by a bunch of stupid white kids. It describes the issues that bi or multi-racial people face in between different societies. I’m far from 100% versed on it, so someone please correct me if I’m wrong.

    1. Chataya
      Chataya January 11, 2013 at 9:06 pm |

      I’ve heard it used to refer to people who are adopted into families of a different race, usually like “I am a trans-ethnic adoptee.”

  13. DouglasG
    DouglasG January 12, 2013 at 2:25 am |

    [With its adrenalized, freewheeling eloquence, the video seemed like a battle cry for a new generation of post-gay gender activists, for whom Stephen represents a rare public face.]

    The article might define its particular spin on “post-gay” if it’s going to give it such a stretch. When I saw the term, I expected to see something at least vaguely Archerian, whose ideas still seem to be more or less attached to the most common understanding of post-gay even if his name has floated away from the discussion. But this is going in an entirely new direction. And then:

    [Part of the solution has been to add more letters, and in recent years the post-post-post-gay-rights banner has gotten significantly longer, some might say unwieldy.]

    “Post-post-post-gay-rights”? Such extravagance. How many “posts” are we going to have (this is not knocking inclusion but perhaps the presumption of progression; we’re nowhere near as far along as perhaps only a New Yorker could think we are) before we’re through? It makes me think of Eileen Brennan in Clue when Mrs Peacock is asked, “What are you afraid of, a fate worse than death?” and replies, “No, just death; isn’t that enough?”

  14. Lasciel
    Lasciel January 12, 2013 at 4:28 pm |

    So which is it? Are we supposed to talk about our experiences in terms of oppression/inequality, in which case we are “co-opting the language of systematic oppression”. Or should we not do that, and instead focus on recognition for those identities, in which case we are making our issue”overtake a real analysis of inequality.”

    And by “we”, of course, I am referring to non-LGB sexual minorities, rather than otherkin or any of the other groups that the article does not even talk about, and which are probably only being brought up here to make non-LGB sexual minorities seem more outlandish by association.

    Racism, the old definition goes, is prejudice + power. This definition was, iirc, written by a rich highly-educated white woman. Please tell me more about how I should apply it to my own life and viewpoint. [Insert picture of Willy Wonka here]

    1. Donna L
      Donna L January 12, 2013 at 4:39 pm |

      And by “we”, of course, I am referring to non-LGB sexual minorities,

      It would help if you explained a little more clearly what you’re talking about.

      1. Lasciel
        Lasciel January 12, 2013 at 5:13 pm |

        I’m sorry if it’s not more clear; it can of course be taken as an infinite term, but for the sake of this discussion we could limit it solely to the ones Jill listed (Demisexuality, autosexuality, demi-romantic, asexuality, aromantic) which are all, except for autosexuality, forms of or aspects of asexuality. The question could of course apply for people of other non-LGB sexual orientations like pansexuality, pomosexuality, as well as gender-identity minorities.

        And I’m excluding the T from the LGB acroynm for the reason that binary trans* people often get told that they are doing the same thing as non-LGB sexual minorities: that when they talk about about their experiences or oppression, they are drowning out the “real” oppressed people (cis women in regard to sexism, or queer rights for cis LGB people ).

        1. Li
          Li January 12, 2013 at 5:51 pm |

          Being any of those things is not mutually exclusive with being gay, lesbian or bi. (not that you said that, precisely, but the “non-LGB sexual minorities thing is… odd phrasing). Neither, for that matter, are any of them aside from asexuality mutually exclusive from being heterosexual. Much of the pushback I’ve seen to demi-sexual or demi-romantic people in particular being included in either umbrella acronyms or in ‘queer’ has been specifically to heterosexually or heteroromantically oriented people co-opting queer oppression to talk about their experiences of a different axis of oppression (that being, the frequency of sexual or romantic attraction) and to elide their straight privilege.

        2. Li
          Li January 12, 2013 at 6:05 pm |

          And I’m excluding the T from the LGB acroynm for the reason that binary trans* people often get told that they are doing the same thing as non-LGB sexual minorities: that when they talk about about their experiences or oppression, they are drowning out the “real” oppressed people (cis women in regard to sexism, or queer rights for cis LGB people ).

          No, this is not the same thing at all. Trans people are included in the queer umbrella not just because of solidarity but because normative heterosexuality is gender essentialist and thus trans people’s genders are always up for dismissal. Thus a heterosexual trans woman can still be routinely misgendered as being a gay man trying to trick straight men (J Michael Bailey I hate you), while a queer trans woman can be strategically gendered correctly so as to expose her to attack for being attracted to other women. That doesn’t make them descriptively queer or make them identify as queer, but it does mean that all trans people, including straight ones, are exposed to, in addition to cissexism, heteronormativity.

          The same is not true of inevitably true of asexual people, and certainly not true of demi people who experience what sexual or romantic attractions they do have exclusively to people of a socially approved gender (that is, men to women, women to men).

          This is exactly the kind of appropriation that you shouldn’t be doing. Trans people’s inclusion in GLBTIQ and queer umbrellas, and even the cissexism they face from cis queers, are not the same as the relation of “non-LGB sexual minorities” to those umbrellas.

        3. DouglasG
          DouglasG January 13, 2013 at 10:32 am |

          [No, this is not the same thing at all. Trans people are included in the queer umbrella not just because of solidarity but because normative heterosexuality is gender essentialist and thus trans people’s genders are always up for dismissal. Thus a heterosexual trans woman can still be routinely misgendered as being a gay man trying to trick straight men (J Michael Bailey I hate you), while a queer trans woman can be strategically gendered correctly so as to expose her to attack for being attracted to other women. That doesn’t make them descriptively queer or make them identify as queer, but it does mean that all trans people, including straight ones, are exposed to, in addition to cissexism, heteronormativity.]

          Here in the US, this was (still is in most states?) highlighted by the patchwork of marriage possibilities. States decide/d “official” gender differently, so that some trans people with cis partners had same-sex marriages because they were legally incorrectly gendered while someone correctly gendered in the next state couldn’t have entered that marriage. I’m not sure whether trans people were ever blocked from any marriage at all in one state or another.

        4. Aydan
          Aydan January 14, 2013 at 9:25 pm |

          I would call aromanticism and demi-romanticism not part of asexuality, actually, since there are aromantics with non-asexual sexual orientations. I think they get talked a lot together since the asexual community brought the concept of romantic orientation to prominence in its little corner of the world, but they’re not on the same identity spectrum.

        5. sable
          sable January 18, 2013 at 5:22 pm |

          No, this is not the same thing at all. Trans people are included in the queer umbrella not just because of solidarity but because normative heterosexuality is gender essentialist and thus trans people’s genders are always up for dismissal.

          That doesn’t make them descriptively queer or make them identify as queer, but it does mean that all trans people, including straight ones, are exposed to, in addition to cissexism, heteronormativity.

          The same is not true of inevitably true of asexual people, and certainly not true of demi people who experience what sexual or romantic attractions they do have exclusively to people of a socially approved gender (that is, men to women, women to men).

          Why do you think asexuals and demisexuals don’t experience heteronormativity?

          We get most forms of heteronormativity on account of our own sexuality, if it’s known.

          A lot of us also get mistaken for or dismissed as LGB, for a variety of reasons, which actually means the issues in that regard are exactly the same as for transgender people. (Obviously, only those who are trans* get cissexism.)

        6. Li
          Li January 18, 2013 at 11:11 pm |

          Oh ffs. All people experience some shit under heteronormativity, including cis straight ones (ask a heterosexual woman some time whether it’s possible for her to have a socially approved amount of sex). But just as many men feeling bad under patriarchy does not make them the feminine other, so heterosexuality being sucky for non-queers too does not make them the queer other.

          I mean, you get most forms of heteronormativity do you? Like having people scream at you on the street for holding your partner’s hand? Like there being actual statues against you and your families in the law? Like straight taxi drivers targeting your venues in order to find people of your sexuality to assault? Like having “family” lobby groups routinely rail against you in the press and call you sexual predators? Like having comedians imitate your stereotypical mannerism for laughs? Like having to constantly weigh the risk of being identified as queer or trans* on the street and being attacked?

          Let’s put it this way. Do you think that ace and demi people are deliberately targeted with homophobia? Because as much as I dislike that term (and obviously non-homosexual queer people are targeted with it too), that’s what we’re talking about here. That’s what the ultimate manifestation of heteronormativity is on queer lives.

        7. CassandraSays
          CassandraSays January 18, 2013 at 11:30 pm |

          “A lot of us also get mistaken for or dismissed as LGB, for a variety of reasons, which actually means the issues in that regard are exactly the same as for transgender people. ”

          (Eyebrows shoot right up into the hairline)

          Look up the murder rates for people who are trans and then get back to us, because the statement you made there is ridiculous.

        8. igglanova
          igglanova January 19, 2013 at 12:12 am |

          We get most forms of heteronormativity on account of our own sexuality, if it’s known.

          What an incredibly ignorant statement. Spend five fucking minutes googling ‘LGBT violence’ and see if you still believe this.

        9. sable
          sable January 19, 2013 at 12:48 pm |

          @ Li

          All people experience some shit under heteronormativity, including cis straight ones… But just as many men feeling bad under patriarchy does not make them the feminine other, so heterosexuality being sucky for non-queers too does not make them the queer other.

          I don’t think it does. I think asexuals are non-heterosexual by definition. But you said that the reason trans people are in the queer umbrella is because all trans people experience heteronormativity.

          Trans people are included in the queer umbrella not just because of solidarity but because normative heterosexuality is gender essentialist and thus trans people’s genders are always up for dismissal. …

          That doesn’t make them descriptively queer or make them identify as queer, but it does mean that all trans people, including straight ones, are exposed to, in addition to cissexism, heteronormativity.

        10. sable
          sable January 19, 2013 at 1:04 pm |

          @ Li

          Do you think that ace and demi people are deliberately targeted with homophobia? Because as much as I dislike that term (and obviously non-homosexual queer people are targeted with it too), that’s what we’re talking about here. That’s what the ultimate manifestation of heteronormativity is on queer lives.

          I’m honestly not clear what you mean by the term in this context. I’ve only seen “homophobia” used to mean “intense and irrational emotions of fear, anger and hatred directed at homosexual people”. The only way to deliberately target homophobia using that would be hate speech and rabble-rousing, which doesn’t seem like a particularly “ultimate manifestation of heteronormativity” in itself.

          If you mean are ace and demi people persecuted for being ace and demi, it’s pretty rare. If you mean are ace and demi people persecuted for being homosexual, sometimes. If you mean, are there people actively trying to make others afraid of and hostile to ace and demi people, then the answer is, only in the queer community, as far as I know.

          I’m going to answer the rest of what you said after the other replies, because the questions are easily answered, but addressing the logic that led you to pose them will take longer.

        11. sable
          sable January 19, 2013 at 1:16 pm |

          @ CassandraSays and igglanova

          Look up the murder rates for people who are trans and then get back to us, because the statement you made there is ridiculous.

          I’m assuming that you either didn’t read what I was applying to or think most of the trans-people murdered were killed because people thought they were gay.

          That statement made a clear distinction between cissexism and heteronormative issues that trans people due to looking like LGB people if their gender identity is dismissed. Here it is again:

          That doesn’t make them descriptively queer or make them identify as queer, but it does mean that all trans people, including straight ones, are exposed to, in addition to cissexism, heteronormativity.

          If you did actually read the statement, you’re the ones being ridiculous. As far as I know, in a lot of cultures, violence against trans-people is massively out of proportion to violence against gay people. If you honestly think all trans* problems are caused by presenting as LGB, then you’re very wrong.

          Non-trans* asexuals don’t suffer from cissexism. Those non-trans asexuals that aren’t LGB people but look it get the same heteronormative issues as trans people who aren’t LGB, but look it. They may have further cissexist issues compounding the heteronormative issues, but the heteronormative issues are the same.

        12. CassandraSays
          CassandraSays January 19, 2013 at 5:00 pm |

          No, Sable, our point was that given the extreme violence often directed at trans people just because they’re trans your attempt to in any way equate asexual and trans as identities that are non-mainstream, discriminated against, etc. is ridiculous and offensive.

    2. Donna L
      Donna L January 19, 2013 at 12:50 am |

      A lot of us also get mistaken for or dismissed as LGB, for a variety of reasons, which actually means the issues in that regard are exactly the same as for transgender people

      What the fuck are you talking about? Yes, people assuming that being trans is exactly the same thing as, or is a kind of, L, G, or B happens sometimes, and can be very frustrating when it’s based on ignorance — and terribly upsetting when it’s based on contempt and malice, as in the old theory that trans women are just gay men in denial who don’t have the courage to admit who they really are. (Similar theories exist for trans men, I believe.) It’s a complicated thing, particularly given that once upon a time, say back in the 1950’s, there really was very little distinction for many in terms of community identification (think of all the street queens back in the day who lived fulltime and thought of themselves as women, but still identified as “gay” because that’s the community they came from and were part of), and there are some communities where there still isn’t much of a distinction. I would also suggest that as with most things, the consequences of this for trans people — whether it’s based on confusion or malice or anything else — bear little resemblance to whatever you might face. Your “exactly the same” comment is based on extreme ignorance. Just stop it, will you please? Why in the world is it necessary to make these ridiculous comparisons in the first place. Identify however you wish.

      Aydan, you keep saying that you never see people who identify as demi-romantic, demi-sexual, etc. claim that they’re victimized by systematic oppression. There have been two people on this very thread claiming exactly that.

      1. Lasciel
        Lasciel January 19, 2013 at 10:20 am |

        I haven’t seen anyone claiming that. (Though there are a lot of comments, so I may have missed something.)

        If you’re counting me among them, know that I claim membership as a member of a systematically oppressed group based on the fact that I am trans* and panromantic, not on any other GSM membership.

        1. Donna L
          Donna L January 19, 2013 at 3:10 pm |

          I actually was not thinking of you, Lasciel.

      2. Aydan
        Aydan January 19, 2013 at 5:43 pm |

        I may have missed something, since the new commenting format (I guess it’s not so new any more) makes it difficult to find the newest comments, but the only person I’ve seen anywhere on this post even talking about being demisexual, or something like demisexual, is macavitykitsune, who has not discussed being oppressed. I definitely haven’t seen anyone talking about being demiromantic, let alone being oppressed for their demiromanticity.

  15. Lasciel
    Lasciel January 12, 2013 at 8:31 pm |

    This is exactly the kind of appropriation that you shouldn’t be doing. I don’t think I can appropriate my own experience. That just seems like a contradiction, I don’t know.

    Trans people’s inclusion in GLBTIQ and queer umbrellas, and even the cissexism they face from cis queers, are not the same as the relation of “non-LGB sexual minorities” to those umbrellas.

    Yes. And the difference is that in your opinion trans people face real oppression and the non-LGB sexual minorities don’t, correct? That is your objection to the comparison?

    (and you are correct by the way, I did not mean sexual minorities that cannot be LGB, simply ones for whom that is a second or other orientation)

    Either way, the conclusion is the same. If asexuals (and other GSM people) are appropriating oppressed group’s experiences by talking about their experiences in terms of oppression and power structures; then the appropriate response is to stop that, yes?

    And if by talking about their experiences in terms of identity outside the power-structure model, they are drowning out discussions of the power-structure/oppression/inequality oppressed groups’ face; then the appropriate response is to stop that as well, yes?

    So asexuals and other GSM people should just stop talking and be silent, and go back to being invisible. And that’s a good thing?

    1. Li
      Li January 12, 2013 at 9:31 pm |

      Yes. And the difference is that in your opinion trans people face real oppression and the non-LGB sexual minorities don’t, correct? That is your objection to the comparison?

      The difference is that they don’t experience oppression on the basis of the intersection between their own gender and the genders of the people they are attracted to / have sex with. Please respond to what I actually say and not just things you invent and then attribute to me.

      1. Li
        Li January 12, 2013 at 9:57 pm |

        The asexual community and associated activism are very young, but it would be nice if people in it (and, in fact, many people I know in the community do already do this!) could apply some of the lessons of intersectionality that older groups have learned.

        (and I just googled GSM and fuck you very much).

        1. EG
          EG January 12, 2013 at 10:09 pm |

          What does it mean? All I’m getting is something about cell phone service.

        2. Donna L
          Donna L January 12, 2013 at 10:12 pm |

          [Something] sexual minorities?

        3. Li
          Li January 12, 2013 at 10:13 pm |

          “Gender and Sexual Minorities”

          Which, people, I don’t know why I have to explain this, but everyone with like, any axis of oppression ever will have sexual norms used against them. Viewing the other as sexually deviant in some way: kind of standard play. Which means that if you define your umbrella as “fucked over by heteronormativity ‘cos of not meeting the norm”, you’re just going to include everyone. No one meets that norm. That’s the entire point. But that doesn’t automatically mean you’re on the ‘other’ side of the binary it sets up.

        4. Donna L
          Donna L January 12, 2013 at 10:31 pm |

          “Gender and sexual minorities,” as a proposed replacement for LGBT. Less “clunky” and supposedly more inclusive, although I see asexuals complaining that it excludes them because they’re “non-sexual,” not a sexual minority. So “GSRM,” to mean gender, sexual, and romantic minorities,” has already been proposed as a replacement for GSM.

          I have no interest in debating anyone on GSM, except to say that I have no interest in the acronym. It’s strange to me that I think it’s actually possible — if “sexual minority” is read broadly enough — that people who are both straight and cis could end up under the “flag.”

          But I don’t believe for a moment that it’s likely ever to gain traction as a replacement for LGBT, etc.

        5. Lasciel
          Lasciel January 13, 2013 at 10:40 am |

          (and I just googled GSM and fuck you very much)

          I’m not even sure what you’re trying to say with that. But I really don’t appreciate the “fuck you very much” if that’s directed towards me, seeing as I am asexual.

      2. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune January 12, 2013 at 10:16 pm |

        GSM

        Oh, great. That’s about as useful as defining minority religions as “people not the Pope”.

        1. thinksnake
          thinksnake January 12, 2013 at 10:39 pm |

          I just quoted this on Facebook because it is such a win line, mac.

      3. Donna L
        Donna L January 12, 2013 at 10:42 pm |

        Also: Lesbians had to fight long and hard to be included in the acronym. Bisexual people did as well. And perhaps most of all, so did trans people, and one still regularly sees LG people complaining about trans people’s inclusion. The way to include other groups is not to invisibilize the ones who are already there, and that’s something that I think “GSM” would do.

        1. DouglasG
          DouglasG January 13, 2013 at 11:01 am |

          It seems too bad to leave out the gay women who didn’t want to be called lesbians (I think to some extent because they didn’t want the community to become an acronym), but that’s going off in a different direction.

          [I have no interest in debating anyone on GSM, except to say that I have no interest in the acronym. It’s strange to me that I think it’s actually possible — if “sexual minority” is read broadly enough — that people who are both straight and cis could end up under the “flag.”]

          Agreed. I suspect that’s sort of the point.

  16. MikeV
    MikeV January 13, 2013 at 4:01 pm |

    YES YES YES YES YES

    I had to leave tumblr because of exactly this. Unfortunately this brand of activism has started seeping into “real life.” It is identity politics past the point of usefulness into the realm of absurdity.

  17. T. Smythe
    T. Smythe January 14, 2013 at 5:39 am |

    Come on, guys. They are putting trans fats in potato chips. How can you seriously suggest they are not horribly oppressed?!

  18. Athenia
    Athenia January 14, 2013 at 10:10 am |

    The NYT article is so annoying. It starts out “the gays want same sex marriage” and ends with “but these trans kids just want to identify! whee!” I mean, maybe I missed it, but did the author even asked about what these kids felt about same sex marriage? Not only that, but even if they weren’t, it sounds like these kids aren’t even thinking about marriage even though it could very well affect them in the future regardless of how they identify.

    Post-gay? STFU.

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune January 14, 2013 at 10:24 am |

      Post-gay gender activist = post-racial decolonisation activist.

    2. DouglasG
      DouglasG January 14, 2013 at 1:18 pm |

      Thank you. It’s especially irritating if, as the OP states (which didn’t register the first reading), it’s a trend of pieces like this lately to impose an exterior definition of post-gay when there’s been a perfectly functional internal one the whole time. I’ve read a fair amount of post-gay philosophy. Even though much of it seems circular and short-sighted, I’ll still take a self-definition of post-gay from previously gay-identified individuals over a label applied (with no evidence of approval or agreement from those so labeled) by outsiders.

      1. Athenia
        Athenia January 15, 2013 at 10:15 am |

        Yeah, like, if you want to talk about same sex marriage, then talk about it–and you may find that even some gay rights activists aren’t too keen on it. It would be more correct to say “post-marriage” rather than “post-gay.”

  19. Aydan
    Aydan January 14, 2013 at 9:41 pm |

    I read the article, and then I read the post, and I think I put my finger on what’s striking me as dissonant:

    “But I also worry about the intense focus on identity, and what that means for social justice movements.”

    Figuring out your identity isn’t inherently a social justice activity. Figuring out your identity doesn’t mean that the most important thing to you is to be unique. It just means you want to know who you are and where you fit into the world. Of course figuring out your identity is all about you, but that doesn’t mean people are figuring out their identities as social justice statements, in order to make social justice all about them. I see these two things conflated a lot, and honestly it’s kind of weird.

    Also, it seems like the link from the article, to the post, to the comments, is hinting at the idea that recognizing too many identities is a slippery slope that leads to acknowledging the validity of trans-ethnicity [as used for people who are not cross-cultural adoptees]; and while I don’t think anyone meant to draw that comparison, I’m a little disturbed that this article in particular, about marginalized gender identities and people in the trans* community, was what led to it.

    “For example (although this is far from the only one): Sexuality and sexual preferences. Demisexuality, autosexuality, demi-romantic, asexuality, aromantic — all of these terms and qualifiers and descriptors describe real feelings, beliefs and sexual practices that real people have.”

    Is your sexual (or romantic) orientation really a belief? I mean, yes, you could describe heterosexuality as “believing you’re sexually attracted to, and only to, the “opposite” gender” but that’s a pretty clunky description. I wouldn’t consider any of those sexual practices, either, no more than any other orientation.

  20. CassandraSays
    CassandraSays January 15, 2013 at 7:29 am |

    Some manifestations of this are just funny, for example when otakukin start complaining about how the writers of the anime character who they believe themselves to be are getting the character’s personality and storyline all wrong. When it starts getting into “trans-racial” territory though…no. Just stop.

    Side note – if we’re going to use a long string of letters as a way to say “people who are not straight and/or cis and/or gender conforming in other ways” can we use QUILTBAG instead? If we want an acronym to be accepted and used it helps for it to be easy to both remember and say aloud.

    1. matlun
      matlun January 15, 2013 at 8:26 am |

      If we want an acronym to be accepted and used it helps for it to be easy to both remember and say aloud.

      One thing I have wondered about the LGBTQIA term: Are the proponents of this term really using it when speaking? Or are they using different terms when speaking and writing?

      1. Li
        Li January 15, 2013 at 3:59 pm |

        “LGBTIQ”, which is my preferred version of the acronym, is only six syllables. It’s not nearly as clunky to say as it seems, especially once you’re used to it. Having said that, I’ve known people to use “alphabet soup” to reference it when speaking.

        1. matlun
          matlun January 16, 2013 at 4:02 pm |

          It just seemed strange to me. But hey, I am not even a native English speaker.

          I do feel there should be some better collective term for “non-standard sexual identity”. I do not know which term that would be, though.

      2. CassandraSays
        CassandraSays January 16, 2013 at 5:25 am |

        Part of the reason I don’t love that acronym is that I think it’s too hard to say aloud, which also makes it far too easy for assholes to mock. Basically I think the difficulty in pronunciation is sometimes used as way to imply that the ideas behind it – ie. that these are real people who exist and have rights and have reason to try to band together to support those rights – are also worthy of mockery.

        I don’t like giving ideological opponents nice convenient weapons to use against me, basically.

    2. Donna L
      Donna L January 15, 2013 at 10:12 am |

      My opinion on QUILTBAG is that anyone who wants to use it should go right ahead, but I’m not a big fan of it personally. I guess there’s something about it that sounds a little too clever and cutesy to me? As if it’s not as “serious” as I think it should be? I don’t know. I don’t think everybody in such disparate groups — which don’t have very much in common except that all or most of them face analogous societal prejudice and oppression — is ever going to agree on a single label to use.

      1. auditorydamage
        auditorydamage January 15, 2013 at 1:30 pm |

        Ran into this once while producing a spot for a queer youth help line fundraiser. The initial version had an alphabet soup acronym, which sounded about as exciting and clear as it does when you sound it out in your head while considering this very issue. We settled on doing the alphabet soup in a line like “This event is to support $organization, a group supporting LBGTTIQQ youth”, and following it up with someone else saying “You mean queer and trans people!” Not perfect, almost certainly open to criticism about possible othering and exclusion, but the people in the room (all from the org) seemed to like it at the time, and I didn’t hear a complaint from any direction (and would have gladly re-recorded and remixed if one had reached my inbox).

        I might have the spot archived somewhere at home.

        1. auditorydamage
          auditorydamage January 15, 2013 at 1:38 pm |

          As a followup, I just hit 140 Characters of Doom to see if the organization had an account to direct followers to, because they’re pretty awesome, and ran into this post:

          https://twitter.com/soy_toronto/status/281101092354396160

          Awesome group. Love them.

      2. DouglasG
        DouglasG January 15, 2013 at 11:41 pm |

        Definitely there is plenty of room for individual taste and what reflects experience. I can see your point, but my activist days were so filled with unpronounceable acronyms that anything sensible without the G directly preceding the L would have been worth its weight in glitter.

  21. SlipperyWombat
    SlipperyWombat January 15, 2013 at 1:08 pm |

    Demisexuality, autosexuality, demi-romantic, asexuality, aromantic

    I had to look all of these up as I had never heard of them before. I was massively disappointed to learn that autosexuality was unrelated to doing it in cars.

    When your chief complaint about your identity is that it keeps you from really identifying with mainstream romcoms you can probably safely remove yourself from the oppressed peoples list.

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune January 15, 2013 at 2:35 pm |

      When your chief complaint about your identity is that it keeps you from really identifying with mainstream romcoms you can probably safely remove yourself from the oppressed peoples list.

      Yeah, pretty much. For fuck’s sake. I hate to “REAL PROBLEMS” people, but speaking as someone who doesn’t identify, but could technically be described as demiromantic, OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE A BIT OF FUCKING PROPORTION. (Aces actually have to put up with a fair amount of shit, so okay, but demiromantics or gray-As getting all wahhhhhh is just the new First World Problem.)

      1. CassandraSays
        CassandraSays January 16, 2013 at 5:31 am |

        The term gray-a makes me roll my eyes because if we start defining everyone who doesn’t enjoy fucking strangers as falling under the asexual umbrella, well, at this rate we may end up with people who’re considered sexual being in the minority. Also I don’t really like how gendered that ends up being in practice, given social narratives about how women are supposed to feel about sex without love versus how men are supposed to feel about it. Does that make sense?

        1. sable
          sable January 18, 2013 at 7:29 pm |

          The term gray-a makes me roll my eyes because if we start defining everyone who doesn’t enjoy fucking strangers as falling under the asexual umbrella, well, at this rate we may end up with people who’re considered sexual being in the minority.

          Try this:

          Imagine all the people you’ve ever been sexually attracted to. Now take out all the strangers. Now all the ones you didn’t know well. Now all the ones you weren’t on pretty close terms with. Now all the ones you wouldn’t have got to know if there hadn’t been some initial sexual attraction between you. Now all the ones you wouldn’t have got to know if there hadn’t have thought there might eventually be sexual attraction between you.

          How many people are left?

          That’s who you’d be attracted to if you were demisexual. (If there’s no people left, you have no reason to think you’re not asexual.)

          How old would you be the first time you felt attraction? How many conversations about which movie stars were hot would you have tried to brazen through? Would you think everyone else was just faking being interested in the opposite sex? Would you try to date because everyone else was or wait endlessly for the boy/girl that was right for you? How different would you be from the norm?

          Also, you might have enjoyed fucking any of those people, if you’d tried it, including the strangers and those you’re not attracted to in real life. It just depends on whether your enjoyment of sex relies on being attracted to your partner.

          I’m talking about demisexuals, because I’m pretty sure you meant demisexual, not grey-A, because grey-A is defined in a way that’s almost impossible to interpret as “doesn’t enjoy fucking strangers”.

          Grey-A is anyone who is on the asexual spectrum, but doesn’t identify asexual.

          It might be people who switch between being asexual and feeling sexual attraction. It might be people who feel attraction in a muted way. It might be people who consider several definitions of asexual viable, but only fit some. It might be people who are sexually attracted to others, but lose that interest when sex actually becomes a prospect.

          Yes, this destroys your neat little minority/majority binary, but that’s a pretty stupid reason to count people with very similar experiences and issues to asexuals, who make up a large minority of the discourse in asexual communities, as not being part of the asexual community.

          Also I don’t really like how gendered that ends up being in practice, given social narratives about how women are supposed to feel about sex without love versus how men are supposed to feel about it.

          It might be gendered with regard to how many of each gender look at the definition and go “Demisexuality is normal. I’m demisexual, but I don’t identify as that, because loads of people aren’t into casual sex.” There’s not actually much of a gender inequality in people who identify as demi according to community censuses.

          Presumably, because outside of close relationships, demisexuals are essentially asexual and any close relationship with a demisexual person in it probably fails to fit social narratives about appropriate relationships. (Mostly, it’s a platonic relationship or completely non-sexual romance.) So, most demisexuals already don’t match their genders’ social narrative on sex and love before they have enough information to know they’re demisexual.

    2. EG
      EG January 15, 2013 at 3:57 pm |

      Does anybody actually identify with the characters in mainstream rom-coms?

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune January 15, 2013 at 4:19 pm |

        HDU EG

        Don’t you know how tough it is to be demiromantic

        It’s so tough I can’t even

        Some days I just sit at home and cry and cry

        Because liking someone before getting the pantsfeelings for them is JUST SO TABOO

        I have never had this modeled to me ever in any book or movie

        Do you have any idea how transgressive it is for people to want emotional connections with sexual partners?

        How isolated we demiromantics are?

        It’s so sad

        *tear of lonely marginalisation*

        1. EG
          EG January 15, 2013 at 4:27 pm |

          Because liking someone before getting the pantsfeelings for them is JUST SO TABOO

          Holy shit, for real? This is what “demi-romantic” means? Isn’t that just…regular life? Like…sometimes you meet somebody and sure, you immediately think “that one, I’ll take that one, thanks,” but other times, you hang out for a while and affection grows and one day you look at them like “Wow, my darling!”

          What do people imagine “normal” people are like? Just…insatiable sex monsters?

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 15, 2013 at 4:38 pm |

          Hmm, well, I misspoke up there, I was referring to demisexuals (which I am), which for some fucking reason I keep mixing up with demiromantics (who don’t experience sexual attraction at all). But yes, that’s what demisexuals are according to asexual networks, etc.

          And no, I don’t feel very marginalised by this either.

          What do people imagine “normal” people are like? Just…insatiable sex monsters?

          Apparently.

        3. EG
          EG January 15, 2013 at 6:12 pm |

          Wow. Truly they are under the heel of the oppressor.

        4. Aydan
          Aydan January 15, 2013 at 6:43 pm |

          You know, I don’t think I’ve ever actually heard or seen a demiromantic claiming to be oppressed qua demiromanticity. There probably is one, somewhere. Or maybe two. There might be two.

          As I said elsewhere in this thread: naming yourself is not inherently a social justice act. Naming yourself does not necessarily mean you are claiming oppression. Naming yourself does not automatically mean your supposed pretensions of minority-hood need to be squashed. Naming yourself is not about changing the external world, though it can be a reaction to the external world. It is about describing yourself. Mocking someone for doing that is silly, and sometimes it’s cruel.

          We have labels even for majority groups– we need labels even for majority groups, because otherwise the majority would be considered the default. Pointing at someone who’s labeled themselves, say, demiromantic and saying, “That’s just normal romantic orientation!” misses the point. Yes, only having crushes on really close friends, basically, is normal. Having crushes on strangers is also normal! Being romantically attracted to women is normal. Being romantically attracted to men is normal. Being romantically attracted to no one is normal. Calling something “normal” is not particularly descriptive, and it is certainly not a helpful way to describe your own experience.

          I’m not sure where we got to the point where describing yourself was considered a social justice statement, or a statement about oppression, but it’s a bad place to be. I disagreed with Jill’s wording, above, but I think she had the right general idea when she said “Demisexuality, autosexuality, demi-romantic, asexuality, aromantic — all of these terms and qualifiers and descriptors describe real feelings, beliefs and sexual practices that real people have.”

          @EG: Demisexuals are people who do not ever have the experience of “that one, I’ll take that one, thanks,” and are basically asexual most of the time. It might be roughly analogous to being a 0.5 or 5.5 on the Kinsey scale.

        5. EG
          EG January 15, 2013 at 7:25 pm |

          We describe majorities–straight, for instance–when there are meaningful political distinctions to be made. When there aren’t, I don’t really see the point of designating one aspect of one’s emotional life as an identity, particularly when that aspect is so pedestrian as to be “yeah, sometimes, if I like hanging out with the person.”

          I also don’t like the cut and dried categorization of emotional life. Such a taxonomy doesn’t seem to leave much room for change over time or general fluidity–it presents not a sense of human emotion as a spectrum, that can be travelled more or less depending on the person, but as a series of boxes in which you’re supposed to fit. And since boxes will always leave somebody out, you end up with smaller and more specific boxes ad infinitum.

          Obviously, people will identify in ways they find meaningful, but that doesn’t mean that those ways are inherently meaningful to anybody else.

        6. A.W.
          A.W. January 15, 2013 at 10:19 pm |

          @Aydan

          “Who is alleging that demiromantics and autosexuals face oppression?”

          Everyone in the ace community I’ve seen on tumblr, for a start. It irritates the fuck out of me, and I’m asexual. It’s not even remotely similar to, say, being trans or queer, which I also am. Yes, it’s awkward (for me) trying to explain to partners that I lack sexual attraction but am very fond of sex itself. Awkward isn’t the same as dangerous, like explaining to a possible partner I’m trans can be.

          & if I see one more demisexual/demiromantic straight person trying to claim queer *anywhere*, I’m verbally squashing them.

        7. Aydan
          Aydan January 15, 2013 at 10:42 pm |

          @ A.W.

          I’d love to see examples of all these conversations you’ve seen, if you have them. I actually watch the asexual community on Tumblr pretty frequently, since I don’t know many asexuals offline, and I don’t see asexuals talking about demiromanticism much at all (which makes sense, since they’re two separate things), let alone alleging that demiromantics are oppressed. Maybe there’s some corner I’m missing where demiromanticism is a really hot topic of conversation.

        8. hotpot
          hotpot January 16, 2013 at 2:54 pm |

          I also don’t like the cut and dried categorization of emotional life. Such a taxonomy doesn’t seem to leave much room for change over time or general fluidity–it presents not a sense of human emotion as a spectrum, that can be travelled more or less depending on the person, but as a series of boxes in which you’re supposed to fit.

          Colors exist on a spectrum, yet we have many different names for “blue.” It would suck if we lived in a world if we had only one word for blue– you would go to the store and buy the completely wrong color paint. It is not about being cut and dried and categorized, but about being specific and cognitive. The people who don’t fit into the new categories didn’t fit into the old categories either, but at least now they have a category that fits them better than the one before. And the discussion doesn’t end there, it continues on from there.

      2. Donna L
        Donna L January 15, 2013 at 8:55 pm |

        Anyone can apply any name they like to any aspect of their identity, for whatever reason. But specifically in terms of adding letters to the alphabet soup, it seems to me that the fundamental reason for combining identities like L, G, B, and T into one “umbrella” label in the first place is that they all face similar or analogous prejudice and oppression — societal, political, and legal, whether it’s in employment, housing, public accommodations, or a huge number of additional areas — and pretty much the same enemies, and that it’s useful to combine them not just for collective pride, but to leverage their influence and engage in activism and advocacy that helps all of them, directly or indirectly.

        It really isn’t, I don’t think, simply because it’s nice to all be on the same team.

        And it’s not because of prejudice people face in dating. Yes, trans people obviously face enormous prejudice in that area, but it’s not the reason why the “T” was added to L, G, and B. And I completely get why people who identify as queer, people who are genderqueer, people who are intersexed, etc., should — if they wish, and I know of intersexed people who most definitely don’t, except to the extent they also identify with some other part of the umbrella — be added.

        But I’d love someone to explain what’s similar or analogous about the alleged oppression faced by graysexuals, demi-romantics, autosexuals (seriously?), etc. — or even asexuals, for that matter — that would make it logical or necessary or desirable to add them to the umbrella, whether by tacking on additional letters or by changing the name of the umbrella entirely to something like “gender and sexual minorities” (which I dislike because I think it’s so broad as to be essentially meaningless). If someone can explain, I’m willing to listen.

        And similar or not, what exactly do groups like these expect to achieve by being included in the umbrella? What would they expect L, G, B, T and/or Q or I people to work together with them to help them accomplish? What exactly would they expect to do for LGBTQI people? Are there thousands of homeless autosexual or demiromantic teenagers who’ve been thrown out by their parents because of how they identify? Am I mocking? Yes, I suppose so. In a way, I do think of some of this as appropriative.

        1. Aydan
          Aydan January 15, 2013 at 9:55 pm |

          Who is alleging that demiromantics and autosexuals face oppression? That’s what I’m trying to get at. The article didn’t, Jill certainly didn’t. Are you talking about someone up-thread that I missed? I have never seen anyone saying that demiromantics are oppressed, and I’ve seen a lot of people rushing to debunk this idea that no one is actually pushing.

          The term GSM caught on in the asexual community specifically to avoid charges of appropriating LGBTQ and similar acronyms. (I believe it is also used elsewhere for different reasons.) It’s a way to denote that gender and sexual minorities have some similar experiences just by virtue of being minorities, and to refer to all gender and sexual minorities both within and without QUILTBAG et al. As I’ve seen it used, it’s broader than QUILTBAG and others, and not a replacement for it.

          As for the other bit of your question, on one hand, no one legislates against asexuality. On the other hand, a common reaction is doctors trying to “fix” asexuals, and in the case of minors, parents dragging asexuals to said doctors to be “fixed.” My understanding is that here in the US, any sort of therapy or intervention to change someone’s sexual orientation is supposed to be considered highly unprofessional, but it’s a common problem for asexuals. Corrective rape/sexual assault are also concerns, along with social stigma and, among kids and teenagers, bullying that sometimes escalates to violence. That may or may not technically be oppression. But it has a lot more in common with what the LGBT* community faces than with what heterosexual cis people face (at least on the grounds of being heterosexual and cis), which is probably why some people in both the LGBT* communities and the asexual communities (not that they’re mutually exclusive) think asexuals are part of the LGBT* community. You mention the “alleged oppression” of asexuals, but my experience is that more people care about just stopping all of those things than care about making these alleged allegations.

          And this goes back to what I’ve been trying to get at– people labeling themselves, even in groups, even labeling themselves in groups and talking about the negative things they experience on a regular basis!– are not necessarily “crying” oppression. Ironically, I think the more we mock and criticize minority groups for existing and labeling themselves even though they don’t experience oppression, the more we create a culture where everyone is desperate to label their experiences as oppression– because that then seems like the only way to be allowed to discuss those experiences and to be taken seriously about them.

        2. Donna L
          Donna L January 15, 2013 at 11:16 pm |

          OK. That makes sense to me. And I have no problem with people calling themselves GSM as long as there’s no expectation that it’s supposed to replace LGBT for LGBT people, or that LGBT people should start using it instead.

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 16, 2013 at 11:08 am |

          The term GSM caught on in the asexual community specifically to avoid charges of appropriating LGBTQ and similar acronyms.

          Aydan, this makes perfect sense to me.

          Re: who’s saying that these groups are “crying oppression”? I…honestly haven’t seen that much by demisexual groups that DOESN’T only just discuss how hard their lives are. Half the reason I don’t want to identify as being anywhere along the asexual spectrum is the way that it’s presented (particularly around Livejournal which is where I found asexuality resources, though I haven’t been on the site in years), like some sort of horrible tragic thing that’s awful and bad. Which, uh, growing up non-binary and a Kinsey 5 in India? Not really my main oppression.

          in the case of minors, parents dragging asexuals to said doctors to be “fixed.”

          What? Is this a thing? Does this happen? I mean, can you actually give me an example of a 15yo girl or something who went to her parents and said “so I don’t want to have sex” and was promptly hauled off to a doctor so she could have sex? (Unless she’s homoromantic and they were trying to fix that rather than the asexual part?)

        4. Radiant Sophia
          Radiant Sophia January 16, 2013 at 12:31 pm |

          “I mean, can you actually give me an example of a 15yo girl or something who went to her parents and said “so I don’t want to have sex” and was promptly hauled off to a doctor so she could have sex?”

          O.k., I’m not saying my experiences are universal, but I really can’t actually, ever imagine this happening. In my experience, at 15, it’s more like “If you even look at boys, you’ll be grounded forever”.

        5. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 16, 2013 at 1:59 pm |

          In my experience, at 15, it’s more like “If you even look at boys, you’ll be grounded forever”.

          In the categories of “some are born asexual, some identify as asexual, some have asexuality thrust upon them”, my family relentlessly used my lack of sexual experience and the fact that I do in fact fall somewhere on the ace spectrum to try to stuff me back in the closet.

        6. hotpot
          hotpot January 16, 2013 at 3:05 pm |

          Half the reason I don’t want to identify as being anywhere along the asexual spectrum is the way that it’s presented (particularly around Livejournal which is where I found asexuality resources, though I haven’t been on the site in years), like some sort of horrible tragic thing that’s awful and bad. Which, uh, growing up non-binary and a Kinsey 5 in India? Not really my main oppression.

          Right, but that’s your experience only. If you grow up in a really conservative household where you’re supposed to remain not just a virgin but not even date until marriage, which is an arranged marriage which may not take place until you’re well into adulthood, then being asexual isn’t going to be that big of a deal. If you grow up in liberal culture in the United States, watching movies like American Pie from childhood and having the entire culture define your worth by your sexual activity, then it’s going to be a bigger deal.

        7. igglanova
          igglanova January 16, 2013 at 3:15 pm |

          If you grow up in liberal culture in the United States, watching movies like American Pie from childhood and having the entire culture define your worth by your sexual activity, then it’s going to be a bigger deal.

          Is there a single culture that actually does this? Certainly, sexual activity almost always influences a person’s social status. But their entire worth? The only cultures with this sort of practice that I have ever heard of are intense patriarchies that punish women for being unchaste. Hardly a case for sexual privilege.

        8. hotpot
          hotpot January 16, 2013 at 3:29 pm |

          “Worth” and “social status” are pretty much the same thing, so I don’t really see the distinction you’re making. And I’m talking about liberal culture, precisely the opposite of the conservative culture you’re talking about, where the pressures are the opposite– to be sexual.

        9. Donna L
          Donna L January 16, 2013 at 3:36 pm |

          If you grow up in liberal culture in the United States, watching movies like American Pie from childhood and having the entire culture define your worth by your sexual activity, then it’s going to be a bigger deal.

          Enh. I grew up in a liberal culture. It was the ’70’s! New York! Hedonism! And I was a virgin until I was 26, and never went on an actual “date” until I was that age, if I recall correctly. (No need to go into the reasons for purposes of this discussion, but they’re not all that hard to figure out.) And I’ve been completely celibate for the last 7 years, for a variety of physical and emotional reasons, and doubt that will change.

          What judgments or consequences have I suffered for any of that in my entire life? Zero. Few knew, and nobody cared or cares. I’ve been ridiculed for all sorts of things in my life, but that? Never.

        10. hotpot
          hotpot January 16, 2013 at 3:50 pm |

          So because it’s never happened to you, it’s never happened to anyone. OK.

        11. igglanova
          igglanova January 16, 2013 at 3:54 pm |

          ‘Worth’ is quite a different concept from social status, which is hardly derived entirely from sexual practice, anyway.

        12. igglanova
          igglanova January 16, 2013 at 3:57 pm |

          Well, I, too, grew up in the type of culture you describe, and the notion of facing severe consequences for not having sex is so alien to me that it isn’t enough for me to just take your word for it. If you have evidence, that’s a different story. But I’m simply not convinced.

        13. Donna L
          Donna L January 16, 2013 at 3:57 pm |

          So because it’s never happened to you, it’s never happened to anyone. OK.

          Note which one of us was using “you” and generalizing, and which one was talking about their own experiences.

        14. hotpot
          hotpot January 16, 2013 at 4:19 pm |

          So because it’s never happened to you, it’s never happened to anyone. OK.

          Note which one of us was using “you” and generalizing, and which one was talking about their own experiences.

          I was using “you” in reference contemporary culture, not New York in the ’70s, which I can’t speak to. You say it was a hedonistic culture, which is what I would have expected, yet you say you faced no stigmas or negative consequences for not having any dates until 26, which is definitely not the case in contemporary US culture. Even many people who manage to keep it hidden, it has an effect on them through their own internalizing of society’s messages.

          Well, I, too, grew up in the type of culture you describe, and the notion of facing severe consequences for not having sex is so alien to me that it isn’t enough for me to just take your word for it.

          You’re saying there’s no stigma to never having sex, never engaging in sexual activity, and remaining single? Heck, most of the time, because a lot of sexuals who are single regret it, it’s automatically assumed to be something to be pitied. I’ve seen those sentiment repeated on the radio on many a Valentine’s day.

        15. EG
          EG January 16, 2013 at 4:36 pm |

          No. Feeling left out of Valentine’s Day is not oppression, and it’s not particularly painful. Lots of people are left out on Valentine’s Day. Unless you’re going to claim that my friends who are estranged from their mothers or whose mothers have died are oppressed because of Mother’s Day.

          I too grew up in NYC, in the ’80s and ’90s, and never felt pressure to have sex, nor much stigma. I faced far more stigma for, oh, not being good at gym class.

        16. hotpot
          hotpot January 16, 2013 at 4:49 pm |

          Feeling left out of Valentine’s Day is not oppression, and it’s not particularly painful. Lots of people are left out on Valentine’s Day. Unless you’re going to claim that my friends who are estranged from their mothers or whose mothers have died are oppressed because of Mother’s Day.

          You’ve missed my point. I mentioned that example because it’s something that publicly mentioned on the radio, not because the significance of the stigma is defined by Valentine’s Day. And the problem is not that some people are left out of it, but that it’s assumed that the people who are left out of it want to be in it, just as it’s a broader assumption in society that being single is somehow a failure. Yes, some people no longer have their Mothers, or are estranged from them, but not having a Mother is not seen as a failure.

          So you, igglanova, and Donna L are all saying there’s no general stigma for remaining single and a virgin? If not, what are we supposed to take from your personal experiences?

        17. A.W.
          A.W. January 16, 2013 at 5:14 pm |

          “And the problem is not that some people are left out of it, but that it’s assumed that the people who are left out of it want to be in it, just as it’s a broader assumption in society that being single is somehow a failure. ”

          You realize you’re including everyone single as somehow being oppressed *for being single* here, right? Not just ppl in the asexual community?

          There’s also an assumption that everyone married has lost the fun in life, as they now have a ‘ball and chain’ attached. Are you going to claim they’re oppressed as well?

          Being single, dating, or married are choices. Not having the choice *offered* is an oppression. I could get married tomorrow, provided it’s to a cis male and that I haven’t had my identification changed. That doesn’t mean I’m marring him because I’m in love with him or desire him sexually and therefor have *privilege*. It only means that I’m legally allowed to marry, – but only in specific circumstances that depend entirely on who I want to marry, not on how often or how little to none the possible marriage candidate feels, say, sexual or romantic attraction.

        18. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 16, 2013 at 5:15 pm |

          Oh, hotpot, I see. YOU decide to take two words – “In India” to extrapolate the following about my life:

          If you grow up in a really conservative household where you’re supposed to remain not just a virgin but not even date until marriage, which is an arranged marriage which may not take place until you’re well into adulthood

          But I’M the one generalising about others’ experiences?

          Cry moar about stereotypes. I find your hypocrisy fascinating.

        19. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 16, 2013 at 5:20 pm |

          So you, igglanova, and Donna L are all saying there’s no general stigma for remaining single and a virgin? If not, what are we supposed to take from your personal experiences?

          Fucking seriously? I, at 22, was the last among my group of friends to get a first kiss/lose my virginity. I never got the slightest amount of shit for it. And before you start beaking on about “Indian culture” again you might want to take a step back and realise that there are variations and differences in the 1.2 goddamn billion fucking people on the subcontinent.

        20. hotpot
          hotpot January 16, 2013 at 5:36 pm |

          You realize you’re including everyone single as somehow being oppressed *for being single* here, right? Not just ppl in the asexual community?

          Nope. Everyone is single from time to time, but being asexual and choosing to be single as a conscious decision is not the same as temporarily being single. Most people form intimate relationships to have sex. Life outside THAT box isn’t too accepted. And if an asexual did want to have an intimate/romantic relationship, that’s not too accepted either, as performing sexually is generally an accepted requirement for having a romantic relationship.

          There’s also an assumption that everyone married has lost the fun in life, as they now have a ‘ball and chain’ attached. Are you going to claim they’re oppressed as well?

          I fundamentally disagree that you can equate this with what I’m talking about. The usually response to “I’m married” is “congratulations.” Yeah, it may be accompanied with some of the jokes you’re talking about, but it’s generally accepted as a major milestone in life that everyone is supposed to go through, unless they have a socially sanctioned reason for not doing so (like being in the clergy), but being asexual is NOT one of those reasons.

          Being single, dating, or married are choices. Not having the choice *offered* is an oppression. I could get married tomorrow, provided it’s to a cis male and that I haven’t had my identification changed. That doesn’t mean I’m marring him because I’m in love with him or desire him sexually and therefor have *privilege*. It only means that I’m legally allowed to marry, – but only in specific circumstances that depend entirely on who I want to marry, not on how often or how little to none the possible marriage candidate feels, say, sexual or romantic attraction.

          I never said any of these things weren’t choices, or that not having a choice offered isn’t an oppression. I don’t see what this has to do with the discussion. If your point is that oppression can only occur if it’s the law formally encoding it into the books, then I disagree. And if you still want to stick to that definition, then I’d say it’s a very narrow way of looking at privilege and critically analyzing power/prejudice structures in society.

        21. igglanova
          igglanova January 16, 2013 at 5:57 pm |

          What even is a ‘general stigma’? Yeah, virgins and celibate people are occasional joke fodder for assholes, but that’s not enough to say that they are oppressed. There is no systematic violence, genocide, workplace discrimination, barrier(s) to access, documented wage discrepancy, or vehement public hatred directed toward people for not having sex.

          And you know what’s a real kicker? Queers end up targets for all of the above…for being sexual. So oppressive, those sexuals. What with their dying and everything.

        22. A.W.
          A.W. January 16, 2013 at 6:10 pm |

          “And if an asexual did want to have an intimate/romantic relationship, that’s not too accepted either, as performing sexually is generally an accepted requirement for having a romantic relationship.”

          You can’t decide that how other people define their own relationship perameters oppresses your own. That’s incredibly entitles thinking. I have several relationships, not all of them by any means are sexual, and – nobody gives a damn -. And yes, I’m asexual. People who are looking for relationships want different things and possibly being sexual is part of it. Having to have that talk beforehand is what adults do.

        23. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 16, 2013 at 6:12 pm |

          Most people form intimate relationships to have sex. Life outside THAT box isn’t too accepted.

          Oh jesus. it’s like you’ve never heard of companionate marriages, or open relationships without sex in the primary relationship, or platonic marriages, or any of the gazillion things that sexuals who don’t form intimate relationships to have sex do. Seriously, if you’re going to talk about sexuals like you’re some sort of authority on all the things ever, you might want to at least try to get something right once in a while so any of us can take you seriously.

          And I can’t buy that all those marriages always contain asexuals, simply because so many of them include sex with people other than the spouse for both partners.

        24. Aydan
          Aydan January 16, 2013 at 7:06 pm |

          Macavitykitsune, as I told A.W., I was asking about demiromantics, not demisexuals, since they were who you originally brought up and DonnaL repeated, and also since they seem to have become the laughingstock of social justice spaces without actually doing much of anything except claiming to exist. I keep seeing people laughing at the idea that demiromantics are oppressed without having ever seen any demiromantic claiming to be oppressed, and I think this is indicative of a problem in how people react to others naming themselves.

          Also, oppressed groups are not the only ones entitled to talk about the difficulties they face. You don’t have to be oppressed to be entitled to discuss “how hard [your life is].” Let me use an example from asexuality rather than demisexuality– as I said, asexuals may or may not be systematically oppressed. But if someone told me to stop discussing my negative experiences of asexuality, to stop talking about possible solutions, on the grounds that we’re not systematically oppressed, I’d be angry. As I said in another comment, if we start acting like the only people who have a right to name themselves or discuss their experiences are those who are systematically oppressed, then a lot of people are going to be clamoring to claim that they are systematically oppressed.

          An example of a 15-year-old-girl specifically? No. But yeah, it’s a* thing. The last link goes to a video, so here is a transcript of the relevant bit: “Someone suffered pressure from his parents when he said he was asexual, and he received ten shots of ECT, electric convulsive therapy. So electricity through his body to make him sexual.”

          *I haven’t read every post in that thread, so there may be some problematic content. Also, if you substitute “livingstillacelife” for “heavenriver” you will find the posts she links to. Her therapist’s conclusion apparently was that if she didn’t start putting out by the end of university, she’d be alone for the rest of her life.

        25. hotpot
          hotpot January 16, 2013 at 7:22 pm |

          There is no systematic violence, genocide, workplace discrimination, barrier(s) to access, documented wage discrepancy, or vehement public hatred directed toward people for not having sex.

          That’s because there is invisibility, contempt, and denial. The whole of society is structured around the assumption that people are sexual beings, and the life path that is mapped out for all people is based on this assumption, which most people don’t even realize is false. The reason there is no documented wage discrepancy is that this issue likely hasn’t even been studied, and if it has been studied, it hasn’t been widely publicized.

          Queers end up targets for all of the above…for being sexual.

          No, not for being sexual. For being sexual in the wrong way.

          You can’t decide that how other people define their own relationship perameters oppresses your own. That’s incredibly entitles thinking. I have several relationships, not all of them by any means are sexual, and – nobody gives a damn -. And yes, I’m asexual. People who are looking for relationships want different things and possibly being sexual is part of it. Having to have that talk beforehand is what adults do.

          I agree that’s how it should be done. Of course, for me it didn’t even occur to me for a long, long time that “hav[ing] that talk” was even possible. Because until I came across the term “asexual”, I didn’t even realize that this was what I was. I just thought there was something wrong with me, a nameless problem that was wholly unique to me. Now that I know, I can do exactly what you say, but it was the identification that made that possible.

          Oh jesus. it’s like you’ve never heard of companionate marriages, or open relationships without sex in the primary relationship, or platonic marriages, or any of the gazillion things that sexuals who don’t form intimate relationships to have sex do. Seriously, if you’re going to talk about sexuals like you’re some sort of authority on all the things ever, you might want to at least try to get something right once in a while so any of us can take you seriously.

          No, I’ve never heard of companionate marriages. A quick Internet search reveals some varied results– the wikipedia page links to a movie, there’s a definition on about.com that features a picture of the Obamas with no mention of asexuality, there’s a description of a book by Ben Lindsey on Oxford Scholarship that describes something akin to ‘modern marriage’ and there’s a blog post from 2012 that describes it the way you’re describing it.

          You’re asking me incredulously that I’ve never heard of some extremely obscure concept where it’s not even clear what it’s supposed to mean as a term? I’ve never claimed to be an authority on “all things ever”, I’m a non-academic, I write from my own perspective of the world, and my own experiences, and that’s all I can do.

          Platonic marriage is more explicit, but it seems to be frequently framed as a problem (‘I’m in a platonic marriage, what can I do?’) or as something that has ulterior (financial) motives. There’s a decent article in Psychology Today, but even that frames platonic marriage as inherently a problem and– more to the point, it seems to assume that platonic marriages are people who are basically able to have sexual attraction, but just lost interest in the other person. It doesn’t really indicate acceptance of marriage between two people who never had any sexual interest to begin with.

        26. Aydan
          Aydan January 17, 2013 at 1:19 pm |

          @hotpot:

          “The reason there is no documented wage discrepancy is that this issue likely hasn’t even been studied, and if it has been studied, it hasn’t been widely publicized.”

          You are correct that this issue hasn’t been studied. The only research I’m aware of that has been done that is even tangential to your discussion is Intergroup bias toward “Group X”, which reports some initial data about the potential for discrimination.

          However, I disagree with the implication that asexuals experience as much wage discrimination as homo/bi/pansexuals and that it is merely undocumented. I doubt this is the case. Though the desire to treat asexuals as lesser may be present in some proportion of the population, it’s harder to determine if someone is asexual than if they fall into other identity groups, so harder to carry out discrimination. For example, if a woman mentions her girlfriend (and it’s clear she’s discussing a romantic partner), then chances are excellent that she’s a lesbian or pan/bisexual, but that statement isn’t illuminating about whether or not she’s asexual. Indications that someone is asexual tend not to come up in casual conversation as frequently, nor are the minimally invasive questions that could elicit such information as numerous.

        27. Donna L
          Donna L January 17, 2013 at 2:21 pm |

          There is no systematic violence, genocide, workplace discrimination, barrier(s) to access, documented wage discrepancy, or vehement public hatred directed toward people for not having sex.

          That’s because there is invisibility, contempt, and denial.

          So you’re saying that if asexual people were more visible and people recognized their existence, there would be “systematic violence, genocide, workplace discrimination, barrier(s) to access, documented wage discrepancy, [and/or] vehement public hatred” directed against them? It couldn’t possibly be because it’s something most people (as bigoted and heteronormative as they may be) couldn’t care less about because they don’t feel threatened by it?

        28. hotpot
          hotpot January 17, 2013 at 2:57 pm |

          So you’re saying that if asexual people were more visible and people recognized their existence, there would be “systematic violence, genocide, workplace discrimination, barrier(s) to access, documented wage discrepancy, [and/or] vehement public hatred” directed against them? It couldn’t possibly be because it’s something most people (as bigoted and heteronormative as they may be) couldn’t care less about because they don’t feel threatened by it?

          No, igglanova is saying that these things are all requirements to be able to say that we’re oppressed, and also to dismiss what I was saying about having a general stigma. I’m saying that even though we don’t face those oppressions, we face others- invisibility, contempt, and denial.

          The premise is that ‘you don’t face THIS and therefore what you face doesn’t matter’

          There are different kinds of oppression and beyond a certain point, I think it’s both unhelpful and impossible to compare them. There are qualitative differences that just can’t be reduced down to ‘X is worse than Y’ or vice-versa. I’m thinking of an example far from what we’re discussing here to illustrate it… it would take a really long post to explain, however.

        29. Aydan
          Aydan January 18, 2013 at 9:00 am |

          “It couldn’t possibly be because it’s something most people (as bigoted and heteronormative as they may be) couldn’t care less about because they don’t feel threatened by it?”

          If the paper I linked hotpot to is accurate and representative, it would indicate that the lack of obvious discrimination against asexuals is more due to a lack of opportunity than indifference. The researchers surveyed two groups of straight people and assessed their feelings about three (as they referred to them) sexual minorities, bisexuals, homosexuals, and asexuals, as well as towards heterosexuals. They also controlled for the possibility that prejudice towards single people, or towards a little-known group, was influencing the results. Overall, the straight people portrayed asexuals as less human than any other group studied, and signaled discrimination intentions towards asexuals equivalent to those towards the other two sexual minorities (the straight people were asked about their willingness to rent to, or hire, a member of each of the four groups).

          Is this an accurate reflection of people’s sentiments or how they would actually act, not just how they say they would act? I don’t know; that depends on the rigor of the paper, and I’m not familiar enough with psychological research to be able to point out flaws beyond the obvious. But it would seem to indicate that asexuals are not viewed with apathy.

    3. hotpot
      hotpot January 16, 2013 at 5:44 pm |

      Fucking seriously?

      Yes, fucking seriously. Mea culpa about the India thing, but we’re just going to have to disagree about this. And I’m not talking about sexual people who stay virgins until their *20s* gasp! I’m talking about asexuals. We don’t magically stop becoming asexual in our 20s.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune January 16, 2013 at 6:04 pm |

        And I’m not talking about sexual people who stay virgins until their *20s* gasp! I’m talking about asexuals. We don’t magically stop becoming asexual in our 20s.

        Christ on a cracker, has it escaped you that I’ve repeatedly identified as being on the spectrum myself? Also, I never said aces don’t experience oppressions, I just pointed out that asexual communities consist largely of cis straight people who literally experience no encoded oppression and who would be indistinguishable from the general population re: work, friends, hobbies, and literally everything not actually sexual. And said that these cis straight people claiming a place in the LGBTQ umbrella just because they don’t have as much sex as the rest of us isn’t necessarily something I’m comfortable with.

        1. Aydan
          Aydan January 16, 2013 at 6:17 pm |

          “I just pointed out that asexual communities consist largely of cis straight people”

          Actually, that’s up in the air. There have been several surveys of various asexual communities and populations, but the one that provided the most detailed information about sexual orientation and gender identity was the (PDF link) Asexual Awareness Week census, which found that about 18% of the particular asexual communities surveyed identified as both cis and heteroromantic. Is that representative of the entire asexual population? Probably not, given certain divergences from other data– papers in 2004 and 2007 found that asexuals tend to be slightly (but significantly) older than non-asexuals, but the AAW census polled a very young population. On the other hand, it’s the best data we have right now, and people who are active enough in multiple asexual communities to take the census may also be more likely to be to be or want to be active in an LGBT+ community.

          Also, I’d like to point out that a lot of asexuals don’t like having our identities reduced to “don’t have sex as much.” Asexuals who are sexually active catch flack from certain quarters– including some feminist spaces, and I’ve seen it here at Feministe– for being sexually active when they don’t experience sexual attraction, on the grounds that it’s “creepy” or “wrong” to have sex without sexual attraction. So it’s not just a question of sexual frequency; the lack of attraction itself is considered significant.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 16, 2013 at 6:26 pm |

          Also, I’d like to point out that a lot of asexuals don’t like having our identities reduced to “don’t have sex as much.”

          But…if I say “don’t have any sexual attraction” I’m excluding demisexuals and gray-As, and say “don’t have sex” I’m excluding full asexuals, etc, etc. How would you describe it in the sense that I was describing it, without excluding people?

          That said, I have no wish to exclude anyone trans, queer, bi, etc from identifying as LGBTQ. (I DO support the QUILTBAG term.) I just… really, really get my hackles up when someone who’s asexual, but otherwise completely indistinguishable from a straight cis person in terms of who they have sex with/romantic attraction towards, gets all “ahhh my sister in oppression” at me when really, fuck that, get back to me when not having sex is illegal in half the world.

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 16, 2013 at 6:28 pm |

          Asexuals who are sexually active catch flack from certain quarters– including some feminist spaces, and I’ve seen it here at Feministe– for being sexually active when they don’t experience sexual attraction, on the grounds that it’s “creepy” or “wrong” to have sex without sexual attraction.

          I’m sorry to hear that this happens. And I always wonder if people yelling about these things aren’t familiar with sex-as-bonding, sex-as-procreation, sex-as-part-of-kink or the zillion other reasons to have sex that aren’t necessarily about having the sweaty pantsfeelings for some other person right at that minute.

        4. Aydan
          Aydan January 16, 2013 at 7:31 pm |

          “But…if I say “don’t have any sexual attraction” I’m excluding demisexuals and gray-As, and say “don’t have sex” I’m excluding full asexuals, etc, etc. How would you describe it in the sense that I was describing it, without excluding people?”

          I would usually just say “on the asexual spectrum.” I don’t think it has the same meaning you’re going for, but it’s the only way to describe all three groups.

          “I just… really, really get my hackles up when someone who’s asexual, but otherwise completely indistinguishable from a straight cis person in terms of who they have sex with/romantic attraction towards, gets all “ahhh my sister in oppression” at me when really, fuck that, get back to me when not having sex is illegal in half the world.”

          That’s totally understandable. From my perspective, the asexual who is completely indistinguishable from a straight cis person is just a lot rarer than people think. Even cis heteroromantics generally face stuff that straight people don’t, though that “stuff” is usually not equivalent to the sex you want to have being illegal.

          “I’m sorry to hear that this happens. And I always wonder if people yelling about these things aren’t familiar with sex-as-bonding, sex-as-procreation, sex-as-part-of-kink or the zillion other reasons to have sex that aren’t necessarily about having the sweaty pantsfeelings for some other person right at that minute.”

          Thanks. I really have no idea. It’s kind of incomprehensible to me.

  22. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune January 15, 2013 at 9:19 pm |

    I’d love someone to explain what’s similar or analogous about the alleged oppression faced by graysexuals, demi-romantics, autosexuals (seriously?), etc

    Autosexuals. Pah. Seriously, we need a speshul identification term for “I masturbate” now?

    I have two very autosexual cockatiels in my house, yo.

    1. Donna L
      Donna L January 15, 2013 at 9:34 pm |

      Well, yes, but I assume autosexuals identify as such because their most important sexual attraction is to themselves. Don’t you think they face a lot of prejudice in trying to find a spouse or partner?

    2. Radiant Sophia
      Radiant Sophia January 15, 2013 at 10:54 pm |

      Identity isn’t oppression, it doesn’t need to be talked about like it is, but to denigrate based upon someones assumed identity makes one into an oppressor.

      1. Donna L
        Donna L January 15, 2013 at 11:13 pm |

        No. If I want to “denigrate” someone because they appropriate the language of oppression by calling themselves otherkins or trans-Koreans — or, yes, autosexual — and by expecting to be included in the LGBT umbrella, I am not “oppressing” them. That is absolute nonsense.

        1. Radiant Sophia
          Radiant Sophia January 15, 2013 at 11:41 pm |

          That’s NOT what I’m talking about, Donna. You should know that.

          I said “Identity isn’t oppression.” I’m asexual, I’m not particularly oppressed by being so, but saying I’m appropriating something by identifying as asexual is nonsense. I use it simply to identify myself. I’m not asking to be included in anything, but you have no right to tell me my identification is incorrect or I’m harming someone else by doing so.

        2. Donna L
          Donna L January 15, 2013 at 11:55 pm |

          I’m not doing what you’re suggesting either, Sophia. I really don’t think I’ve either said or implied that I think that an asexual identity isn’t genuine, or that I think there’s anything wrong with identifying as such.

        3. Radiant Sophia
          Radiant Sophia January 16, 2013 at 12:09 am |

          Donna,
          I’m not suggesting you are. I don’t think you are. You have neither said nor suggested (as far as I can tell) that there is anything wrong with it.

          WHAT I MEANT:

          I think some of the words going around are ridiculous, BUT making fun of “autosexuals” gives them ammo to claim oppression.

        4. Aydan
          Aydan January 16, 2013 at 8:18 am |

          Can you explain how you feel autosexuals are appropriating the language of oppression simply by naming themselves? (Maybe I misunderstood your comment, but that’s the impression I got from “they appropriate the language of oppression by calling themselves otherkins or trans-Koreans — or, yes, autosexual”.)

        5. Donna L
          Donna L January 16, 2013 at 9:34 am |

          Aydan, I meant the “and by expecting to be included in the umbrella” to be part of it. That’s what makes it appropriation. If all people do is name themselves, I don’t care that much (except where the name itself is appropriative, like “trans-Korean).

        6. Donna L
          Donna L January 16, 2013 at 3:08 pm |

          BUT making fun of “autosexuals” gives them ammo to claim oppression.

          But it’s so tempting!

      2. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune January 16, 2013 at 11:13 am |

        Fair enough, Sophia. I apologise for the joke.

        1. Radiant Sophia
          Radiant Sophia January 16, 2013 at 12:15 pm |

          Mac,
          I wasn’t offended. I don’t really think anyone was. My point was that people use imagined offense to claim persecution when they are actually looking to reinforce privilege. We see it happen all the time here.

          I’m sorry you and Donna misunderstood, but I certainly wasn’t calling either of you an oppressor for questioning “autosexuals” as being somehow oppressed (or even a minority).

          As far as asexuality being looked down upon, I think that depends a lot on the situation. Due to my situation, people think I am in a “normal, heterosexual relationship”, but a poster above pointed out how it could be construed that way. For me it certainly ranks lower than, say, being too poor to afford health care.

  23. A.W.
    A.W. January 15, 2013 at 11:51 pm |
    1. Donna L
      Donna L January 16, 2013 at 12:06 am |

      Demisexual and demiromantic aside, I’ve certainly seen plenty of straight cis people say that they identify as “queer” in the last few years, mostly because they’re into things like pegging. I’m not sure that qualifies, or whether straight cis people get to reclaim “queer,” but I’m not the gatekeeeper for queerdom, especially since I don’t identify as queer myself. I’ve also seen people who have a heterosexual identification refer to themselves as queer when they’re trans-amorous. I’m not sure how I feel about that, either. If you’re a straight-identified man with a trans woman, I don’t necessarily think it’s a great idea. A straight-identified woman with a trans woman? Why not?

      1. A.W.
        A.W. January 16, 2013 at 12:18 am |

        “Demisexual and demiromantic aside, I’ve certainly seen plenty of straight cis people say that they identify as “queer” in the last few years, mostly because they’re into things like pegging.”

        I’ve seen that too, particularly in kink communities.

    2. Aydan
      Aydan January 16, 2013 at 8:16 am |

      Actually, they’re talking about demisexuality, which describes a different thing. Demisexual is a sexual orientation, demiromantic is a romantic orientation. I was specifically asking for about all these conversations you seem to have seen where demiromantics are claiming to be oppressed. Because I haven’t seen any, and I certainly haven’t seen it as a theme of that (small and disorganized) community. I’m wondering what exactly all these demiromantics said, to make them the laughingstock and current favorite target of social justice spaces, and I’m starting to suspect it amounted to “we exist.”

      And I think this matters, because we seem to have gotten the idea that any minority group that’s claiming to exist is claiming oppression, and furthermore, if this claim isn’t valid, then neither is the existence of the group. Obviously there are a lot of problems with this idea.

      1. Li
        Li January 16, 2013 at 2:08 pm |

        Demisexual is a sexual orientation

        Meh. Demisexual describes frequency of sexual attraction, but I think it’s tenuous to call it an orientation in and of itself. It doesn’t tell really tell you anything about the kinds of people demisexual folks are attracted to (and yes, since demisexual people experience attraction, this is trackable).

        1. Donna L
          Donna L January 16, 2013 at 3:19 pm |

          If that’s what it means, I’m not even sure I understand how that’s non-normative. Is there a belief that a “normative” sexual identity means being attracted sexually to people all the time? Or are there people who claim a “hypersexual” identity? It sounds rather nebulous to me. The way some of these identities are being described, I could theoretically have characterized myself as fitting into just about all of them at one time or another. For example, I’ve never been someone who sees people on the street and feels overwhelming and immediate sexual attraction to them (as opposed to simply thinking that someone is attractive), but I don’t understand what’s non-normative about that.

        2. Aydan
          Aydan January 17, 2013 at 8:38 am |

          My understanding is that part of the point of the demisexual orientation is that sexual attraction happens so rarely that there is no discernible pattern for any one person. The sample size is too small. So demisexuals designate their attractions by what they know they have in common– that is, all of them are to someone they were already very close to. If you only experience sexual attraction a handful of times in your life, or are only attracted to a couple of people in your life, it can be hard to figure out what orientation you would use to describe yourself that’s not demisexual.

          I’m not demisexual, and I know that may not be a universal rationale, but it’s how some of the demisexual folks I know have explained it.

        3. sable
          sable January 18, 2013 at 8:15 pm |

          Meh. Demisexual describes frequency of sexual attraction, but I think it’s tenuous to call it an orientation in and of itself. It doesn’t tell really tell you anything about the kinds of people demisexual folks are attracted to (and yes, since demisexual people experience attraction, this is trackable).

          This seems like an deeply tenuous argument to me. Demisexual is more specific than [gender]sexual. Demisexual people are attracted to a subset of a small clearly defined set. Homosexual people are attracted to a subset of their own gender, which is in the majority of cases, half the people in the world.

          Yet, I’ve seen it before a couple of times. Is there some extra information in these terms beyond gender? Or a set of terms for people who are into smart people or red heads?

        4. Li
          Li January 18, 2013 at 11:25 pm |

          Being attracted to a smaller number of people does not make that attraction more specific. It certainly doesn’t change how homosexual or heterosexual you are. Hypothetical Straight Woman number 1 is not more Heterosexual than Hypothetical Straight Woman number 2 just because she is attracted to more men. Even if Hypothetical Straight Woman number 2 has only been attracted to three men in her life and all of them have been close friends, she’s still been exclusively attracted to men and thus is fairly fucking unlikely to be, say, denied employment by the local Catholic School on the basis of her non-existent lesbianism or bisexuality.

        5. Li
          Li January 18, 2013 at 11:41 pm |

          Or a set of terms for people who are into smart people or red heads?

          Hey, guess what? Homosexuality as a term was popularised by the nascent discipline of psychiatry as it sought to pathologise same-sex attracted people and finally to create a taxonomy of attraction! And since (spoilers) attraction to red-heads has not traditionally been viewed with such concern as to bother spending vast amounts of time and resources attempting to document and cure it, there’s not really an equivalent term. Certainly not one that’s institutionally driven.

          You’re in luck on the smart people one though, since a couple of what I’m sure are *stellar* human beings decided to coin “sapiosexual” a few years back in order to cement their sense of superiority.

        6. sable
          sable January 19, 2013 at 12:40 pm |

          Being attracted to a smaller number of people does not make that attraction more specific.

          In most cases, saying that are people in group A is more specific than saying people are in group B, if group A is smaller than group B.

          It certainly doesn’t change how homosexual or heterosexual you are. Hypothetical Straight Woman number 1 is not more Heterosexual than Hypothetical Straight Woman number 2 just because she is attracted to more men.

          But that wasn’t your complaint. You didn’t say “Demisexual describes frequency of sexual attraction, but I think it’s tenuous to call it an orientation in and of itself. It doesn’t mean homosexual and it doesn’t mean heterosexual.”

          Your complaint was “It doesn’t tell really tell you anything about the kinds of people demisexual folks are attracted to.”

          My question is how do traditional sexual orientations tell you more?

          Even if Hypothetical Straight Woman number 2 has only been attracted to three men in her life and all of them have been close friends, she’s still been exclusively attracted to men and thus is fairly fucking unlikely to be, say, denied employment by the local Catholic School on the basis of her non-existent lesbianism or bisexuality.

          And your new criteria for sexual orientation, that is somehow supposed to follow from “It doesn’t tell really tell you anything about the kinds of people demisexual folks are attracted to.” is that sexual orientations have to be something that those with the orientation are likely to be discriminated against for.

        7. thinksnake
          thinksnake January 19, 2013 at 12:50 pm |

          And your new criteria for sexual orientation, that is somehow supposed to follow from “It doesn’t tell really tell you anything about the kinds of people demisexual folks are attracted to.” is that sexual orientations have to be something that those with the orientation are likely to be discriminated against for.

          Well, that’s not new criteria. It’s how sexual orientations were developed as pathologies, as deviations from the norm. We’re coming up to 130 years since Psychopathia Sexualis was published, hardly a new concept.

      2. igglanova
        igglanova January 16, 2013 at 2:31 pm |

        And I think this matters, because we seem to have gotten the idea that any minority group that’s claiming to exist is claiming oppression, and furthermore, if this claim isn’t valid, then neither is the existence of the group.

        ‘Minority group’ is a term with a specific meaning. It doesn’t simply mean ‘a small demographic that exists.’ The designation of minority necessarily implies that the group in question is oppressed.

        1. hotpot
          hotpot January 16, 2013 at 3:14 pm |

          That’s not clear without a clear definition of what is meant by oppression. If the definition is going to be “stuff that significantly impacts someone’s whole life” then I agree with that. But if the definition is “stuff that’s obvious/stuff that’s formally encoded into law/stuff that meets a certain arbitrary standard defined by MY group” then I don’t think that’s helpful at all.

        2. Donna L
          Donna L January 16, 2013 at 3:26 pm |

          stuff that meets a certain arbitrary standard defined by MY group”

          That’s what you think about the standards by which people usually form an opinion that identifiable groups of people, specifically LGBT people in this context, suffer from oppression”? That it’s all purely arbitrary depending on what group formulates those standards, and there’s no actual meaningful difference? That there’s no non-arbitrary standard by which someone can say that, for example, say, the oppression that trans people generally suffer is so much greater than the “oppression” suffered by “autosexuals” and “demi-romantics” that it’s offensive even to use the same word for the latter? If that’s what you believe, than I profoundly disagree with you.

        3. Donna L
          Donna L January 16, 2013 at 3:42 pm |

          In fact, the more I think about it, the more I think that defining the word “oppression” that broadly is just about as appropriative as anything can be.

        4. hotpot
          hotpot January 16, 2013 at 3:47 pm |

          No, that’s not what I meant. There are real differences in the amount of oppression suffered, I think we agreed on that upthread. igglanova’s comment was about what qualifies as oppression at all. But Aydan was really just defending their right to self-identify, apart from even mentioning oppression. Really the debate here seems to be a fight over who owns what words, which I’m not particularly interested in. So count me out of that one.

        5. hotpot
          hotpot January 16, 2013 at 3:49 pm |

          OK. You own LGBT, “minority” and “oppression.”

        6. Donna L
          Donna L January 16, 2013 at 4:06 pm |

          No need to be so fucking snide. It seems to me that you were the one who referred to “arbitrary standards” of what is and isn’t oppression, and proffered a definition of the term that’s so broad as to render it virtually meaningless, since it doesn’t even require an “oppressor.”

        7. Donna L
          Donna L January 16, 2013 at 4:07 pm |

          OK, never mind, I give up. I have no interest in pursuing this conversation.

        8. A.W.
          A.W. January 16, 2013 at 4:34 pm |

          hotpot
          1.16.2013 at 3:14 pm | Permalink
          That’s not clear without a clear definition of what is meant by oppression. If the definition is going to be “stuff that significantly impacts someone’s whole life” then I agree with that.”

          That’s an inaccurate definition of oppression. I eat the same food for weeks in a row – that doesn’t mean if someone else in my household makes dinner that I won’t eat means I’m oppressed by the actions.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oppression

        9. hotpot
          hotpot January 16, 2013 at 4:55 pm |

          I’ll assume you’re only misinterpreting me on the basis of a good-faith literal reading– that paragraph was no more meant to set up “stuff that significantly impacts someone’s whole life” as the literal definition of oppression as it was meant to set up “stuff that’s obvious” as an alternative definition. It was meant to draw a distinction– between a definition that includes significance in a person’s life as a criteria, and ones that include three alternative criteria.

        10. Aydan
          Aydan January 16, 2013 at 6:06 pm |

          Really? I usually see it used strictly numerically, and it seems redundant to designate “minority” as “group less than 50% that is oppressed.” I say it’s redundant because we already have a way to describe groups that are oppressed, and that’s oppressed groups, whether they constitute a numerical minority, such as Native Americans/First Nations, or a majority, such as women. On the other hand, if minority must mean an oppressed group, than we’ve lost our word for describing a demographic less than 50% (and usually a lot less than that), especially for those groups that experience marginalization and regular negative experiences that are not encoded in law as systematic oppression.

        11. igglanova
          igglanova January 16, 2013 at 6:12 pm |

          On the other hand, if minority must mean an oppressed group, than we’ve lost our word for describing a demographic less than 50% (and usually a lot less than that), especially for those groups that experience marginalization and regular negative experiences that are not encoded in law as systematic oppression.

          Untrue. ‘Minority group’ is often incorrectly assumed to mean a simple statistical minority, but the term is well defined in social sciences. I suggest looking it up, rather than going by what you’ve casually heard.

          I also don’t know where you’ve gotten this weird idea that oppression has to be encoded in law in order to be systematic.

        12. Donna L
          Donna L January 16, 2013 at 6:28 pm |

          Aydan, you are aware, aren’t you, that for most purposes, Jews are not generally considered a “minority” group anymore in the United States? There aren’t too many Sorbs and Wends in the USA either, and nobody calls them “minority groups.” This is not a new concept, and you can’t just decide to change what “minority group” means in general parlance, social sciences, and politics, among other things.

          Also, I can assure you that trans people and other LGBT people, and plenty of other groups as well, face enormous amounts of systematic oppression that isn’t encoded in law.

        13. Aydan
          Aydan January 16, 2013 at 6:59 pm |

          @igglanova: Okay, I see that now. For “minority group” in my previous comments, please read “demographically small group that may be marginalized and subject to negative experiences but is not necessarily oppressed.”

          @DonnaL: No, I was not aware that Jews were no longer considered a minority. (I’ve lived most of my life in somewhat anti-Semitic places, so I don’t think it would have occurred to me even under the definition you and igglanova pointed to.) It certainly wasn’t my intention to try to redefine the term. As a biologist, I’m used to the more statistical definition of “minority,” and I didn’t realize there were nuances across fields.

          Re: oppression must be enshrined in law: when someone wants to argue that asexuals don’t experience oppression, they often point out that there is no legislation against them, with the implication being that everyone can agree a group is oppressed if they are legislated against. It was sloppy of me to imply that I agreed with this idea, or the idea that oppression has to be legislative, and I apologize.

        14. Donna L
          Donna L January 16, 2013 at 7:40 pm |

          Aydan, I’m not saying I necessarily buy the idea that Jews are no longer subject to prejudice and discrimination in the US — I certainly think they are in some areas — but I do realize that it isn’t remotely what it used to be.

  24. You ever just want to be done with it all? | Asexual Cupcake

    [...] article is here: http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2013/01/11/generation-fight-identity-fight/ and it is response to a NYT article on the newer GSM identities (think genderfluid, agender, [...]

  25. TheAce
    TheAce January 17, 2013 at 2:18 am |

    *takes one look at post and comments*
    *walks away and leaves people to be people*

    (bonus points if you recognize what the name is in reference to)

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