Monday, May 6, 2013

common theme: rape? and sexual orientation? the two are unrelated, unless you are a bigot.

When i was a freshman, i took a public speaking course. One of our assignments was to give a persuasive speech on a controversial topic. I can't for the life of me remember what i chose; probably something about feminism? Anyway. Several people spoke on gay rights, particularly gay marriage and don't ask, don't tell. One young man in the class was vehemently and vocally opposed to the very idea of gay soldiers.
"My dad was in the army," he said. "Those guys do everything together. They change together, shower together, spend every minute of the day together. I don't like the idea that someone who could be attracted to me might be in that environment."
Let's leave aside the non sequitur of his father's years of service. Let's also leave aside the issue of women in the service. And finally, let's ignore the fact that many, many, many, many women, both civilians and soldiers, have experienced all manner of sexual harassment and assault at the hands of men in uniform. Instead, let's address his unshakable belief in two things: all gay men are automatically attracted to all penises, and no gay man is able to control his sexual impulses. Because obviously, never in the history of the world has a gay man been able to look at any man (in any state of dress or undress, alertness or vulnerability, position of authority or position of subordination, homosexual or heterosexual, attractive or ugly, attached or single,) and thought, "Meh, not for me." To be gay means to be so strongly attracted to all penises everywhere that you cannot help but touch them, even if they belong to your boss; or your straight, married, best friend; or a really ugly, rude, obnoxious, bigoted guy with terrible personal hygiene; or a nice, single, attractive, gay man with a great personality who just doesn't like you that way. Obviously.
An entry in Cliff Pervocracy's archives addresses the issue of sexual abuse and harassment on the job.
"And I'll tell you a personal story: back when I worked 24-hour shifts, I shared a very small quarters with three people who were attracted to my gender. We slept together, shared a bathroom, and frequently changed clothes in front of each other. If I didn't want to sleep next to someone whose orientation made them potentially aroused by my gender, I'd have to sleep out in the truck . . .
Of course some female EMTs do face abuse. What if they had harassed me? Then the problem would be the harassment. "He was all heterosexual at me" isn't a complaint; it's "he was all disrespectful and abusive at me." It'd be nice to ban abusers from service but unfortunately we rarely ask and they never tell . . .
(Or, following the logic often used to exclude women, ban heterosexuals. They're the ones with the problem, right? Some hetero gets his boxers in a twist and files a frivolous complaint and your whole career goes down the tubes, I tell ya.)"

One of the finest features on Pervocracy has GOT to be Cosmocking. Here are some gems from an entry in April 2010 about avoiding rape on road trips:
"If you are taking a long trip and will need to stop for fuel after dark, go to websites like to find full-service stations along your route. That way, you can stay in your car with the doors locked.
There are several insane paranoid precautions you should take specifically when doing anything after dark. Apparently rapists are vampires.

When you're shopping at night, or if the lot looks eerily empty, ask store personnel for a security guard to walk you to your car. If there isn't one available, keep a hand free of packages as you walk to your car, and stay in the middle of the parking-lot aisle, away from vehicles, where criminals might be hiding.
Apparently rapists are funhouse vampires, and they operate by jumping out and going "boogy boogy boogy!" . . .
[If your car breaks down] While you wait for help to arrive, do not under any circumstances get out of your car; roll up your windows, lock the doors, and stay inside.
For fuck's sake. Is air toxic to women? I don't know about rapists; this is how I would act if there were velociraptors outside the car."

My introduction to Jennifer Knapp came from WOW 2001 (shut up; it played in the Christian music store where i worked). Her song "Into You" was something entirely new in Christian music. I knew the Point of Grace/Avalon/Petra/Michael W. Smith worship choruses, the Anne Murray hymns, and i was learning about Contemporary Christian Music for the Jesus Youths: DC Talk, Switchfoot, Superchic[k], KJ52, and so forth.
But i had never heard a voice like Jennifer's.
I had heard music that was immediately identifiable as Christian, and i had heard music that you could play at Youth Group OR under the credits of a popular movie or TV show (Switchfoot, i'm looking at "Dare You To Move"). It was in the 90s and early 2000s that young Christian artists began to simply write songs from their hearts, instead of trying to write "church music" (Keith Green and Amy Grant aside). There were still musicians who were trying to hit a particular target, but artists like Jennifer wanted to make art and trusted that God would speak to people through it, just like He has for the past several millennia.
"Into You" remained my only Jennifer Knapp exposure until 2010, when i learned that she had 1. temporarily quit music to spend some time in obscurity and personal growth, 2. just come out as a lesbian who had been in a same-sex relationship for many years, and 3. ended her "retirement" by releasing a new album about her feelings (both about her partner and about Jesus and the Church). I read several interviews, impressed by her reticence and discretion about her personal life, touched by the pain and anger she had felt and expressed, and wishing desperately that the interviewers would stop asking about her girlfriend and start talking about her music, because every time they did i became a bigger fan or Jennifer Knapp. I downloaded the new album and fell in love.
Three years later, she talked to Rachel Held Evans and her fans, and that interview has forever cemented Jennifer's place in my heart. Because not only is she a brilliant and talented musician, but her heart for God is amazing, and she says some stuff that i've been feeling and have been struggling to articulate. I wish i had enough skin to tattoo her words on my body:

". . . If I understand correctly, your journey took you to a point where you now own the fact that you can't not be gay and you can't not be Christian. For the second part of that - What were some of the moments, the thoughts, the experiences that brought you to the point of claiming your faith as a Christian?

There are times in our lives where we are witness to certain events and happenings that radically alter how we will move about our world. We have experiences where we are forever changed in how we see the world around us, how we see ourselves and how we will react in navigating our individually unique journeys. I am grateful that the Gospel spoke to me in such a way. I saw, I experienced, I left altered by a grace that I knew I could never merit nor repay. To this day, my life has never been the same.
Try as I might, the message of Christ continues to inspire and move me, even when no one is looking, even when others insist that I am "doing it wrong" or not acting 'Christian enough'. Being in a church every Sunday isn't why I identify as Christian . . .
Over the years I have continued to question what calling myself a 'Christian' implies. There's a lot to unpack there in terms of religion, tradition, history, theology -- but honestly, in the end, it doesn't matter what anyone calls me. I am and continue to be inspired by my experience with Christ. No one can take that away."

Pervocracy should just write articles taking down other articles. Because seriously? there's a lot of bullshit that needs to be deconstructed, and she does it so well and so hilariously. Here's a takedown of the idea that women "withhold" sex as punishment when men hurt their feelings.
"Some women make a habit of withholding sex from their partners, while some only do it under very specific circumstances. To men, this seems like cruel and unusual punishment.
Some women have sex very often, while others prefer to have sex less often. To men who think everything is about them, this seems like it's all about them . . .
Personally, I've never withheld sex in a relationship, because I couldn't withhold it from myself, but I've turned down sex, um, ones of times! For reasons that had to do with both my partner and myself . . . If I'm not fucking you because I'm unhappy, the main problem is the unhappiness; the fucking problem is only a symptom . . .
When I'm angry at you, I don't want to have you inside my body. This is not some ultimate cruelty that I'm "not above" . . .
Again, ugh, "sex privileges." It's not like I can just hand you the key. I have to be there the whole time and everything."
That last line is one of Pervocracy's greatest contributions to the discussion of "sexual rights": if a guy is hitting on me and i turn him down, i'm not just denying him sex. I'm also denying myself sex. It's not like i can just unscrew my vagina and hand it to him for the night. If he wants to have sex with me, that means i have to have sex with him, too.
Many men (and women! Example: Cosmo) seem to forget this, and talk about sex as a commodity that women hold. Women can choose to give their sex to men or to deny their sex to men. There is little or no discussion of women wanting sex, women pursuing sex, women being "denied" sex, or women actually "having sex with men". Sex is not something women have, it's something they give or keep. And of course there is little or no discussion of women having sex with each other; lesbians are an invention of porn and Katy Perry designed to give sexual pleasure to men. And women do not want sex because they like the sex itself, they want sex because they love their husbands or boyfriends and want to please them, or because it's the third date and they want to turn these guys into their husbands or boyfriends, or because they want a promotion or raise, or because they want attention and affection, or because their biological clocks are ticking and they want babies. Women choose to give men sex for one of these reasons, and they choose to withhold it because they are cranky, or they have a headache, or whatever.
Here's the thing: sex is something that two people do together. Rape is something that one person does to another person. If you want to talk about rape, we can talk about rape, and we can talk about how you can rape my vagina without my consent or enjoyment. In that case, you get laid and i do not. So me denying you sex? Is me denying you rape. But me deciding that i don't really feel like having sex with you? Is me deciding that do not want to have sex. And maybe it's because i already have a boyfriend and you're not him, or maybe it's because i'm on my period, or maybe it's because you are unattractive to me, or yeah, maybe it's because i'm cranky or have a headache or whatever. But at the end of the day, if i am not having sex with you, it's not because i hate you and want to prevent you from getting laid. It's because i do not want to have sex. So men: stop whining about how women won't let you have sex with them, and start figuring out how you can make women want to have sex with you (hint: more hygiene and fewer rape threats will go a long way).

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