Monday Miscellany: grumpy feminist (is there any other kind? OH SNAP!) edition

Hey, look, a whole essay about what a horrible person I am! Ya gotta love the internet. And people who take quotes from years-old essays whose positions I’ve moved away from, and/or developed more nuanced ideas about. Ah, life.

Though I don’t have any feminist cred anymore, can I still point out more PETA ridiculousness?

Also, here’s a snippet of a conversation on Carol Adams’ Facebook page that started out being about about the infamous bj Burger King ad and turned into a discussion of PETA:

Someone: What does everyone think of the excuse PETA uses: the feminist ideal that a woman has the right to use her body and/or sexuality to make a point if she so chooses? They use references to Lady Godiva, who used the beauty of her naked body as a metaphor for her cause. I am looking at this for a master’s thesis, and am anxious for feedback.

Carol Adams: MacKinnon is best on this: they assume that the equality we are working for has been achieved; and thus that consent has meaning. But in a world of sexual inequality, consent is a fungible term.

What do you think? (Brittany, I especially want to hear your thoughts, ’cause I know you’ll disagree and you know I like that!) As usual, I think Carol is brilliant, and no one can ever refer people to Catherine MacKinnon fast enough for my taste. But if I said it I would be accused of accusing other women of false consciousness and hated on for the rest of humanity for even breathing the CaMac name. Fuckin’ feminists. You can never win with those bitches.

On a completely different note, why I haven’t been reading the blog of the fiercely feminist farmer Kara over at Wintergreens since day one, I do not know, but I’m happy to be reading it now. Upstate awesomeness, for sure—fresh/fermented/wild/frozen food all winter long!! People, they are MAKING BABY FOOD! Wow.

OK, back to work.



15 Responses to “Monday Miscellany: grumpy feminist (is there any other kind? OH SNAP!) edition”

  1. Ida

    The post about your transphobia is based on comments you made here on your own blog less than two weeks ago. Reference to your “year-old essays” provides context and background by placing your recent comments with in your own history of anti-trans activism. And as I discuss in the post, your most recent comments show a continuity that belies any claim that you’ve “moved away from” positions that are clearly anti-trans.

  2. lagusta

    Ida, of course I stand by the comments made here a few weeks ago, but I do believe my positions have changed from an essay I wrote several years ago (you obviously don’t and that’s your right of course). It really saddens me that you continue to label me an “anti-trans activist” when I clearly mean no malice toward trans people. I wish we could agree to disagree, or at least agree that things are a tiny bit more nuanced than you’d like to believe.

  3. Noah

    Lagusta, the essay is not about “what a horrible person you are,” it was responding to the anti-transsexual positions put forth in your writings. Characterizing the essay as a personal attack is not accurate; it sets up the discussion as whether people think you are a “good” person or a “bad” person. There is no room left to discuss the actual issues raised by the essay.

    You are not a horrible person. OK? I hear that you feel that your views have evolved and you would like to have the changes that you have made acknowledged. If the old essays are no longer an accurate representation of your current views, then I think it’s great that you’ve taken them down.

    I acknowledge that your views have evolved and are evolving and that you are honestly, sincerely trying to learn more. To explain my perspective, however, those views have gone from “transsexual people shouldn’t physically transition” to “transsexual people shouldn’t physically transition*.”

    *But as a short-term, emergency measure due solely to the suffering caused by living in a sexist society, transsexual people may be allowed to transition, but I’m still opposed to it because in an ideal non-sexist society people wouldn’t need to. Physically transitioning is a bad thing, and it’s a shame that anyone should have to go through it. The intense physical discomfort that transsexual people feel is solely the result of sexism in society; they are not experiencing any real, physical issue with their bodies that needs to be addressed. If transsexual people were stronger, they would not need to transition. People who do transition are weak and are just caving into societal pressure to conform to gender stereotypes. There can be no reason to transition other than due to societal pressure. By physically transitioning, transsexual people are responsible for upholding sexism and rigid gender categories. The problems transsexual people face are no different that the problems facing cissexual people. The discomfort trans men experience is no different from the cis woman who thinks her thighs are too big. If we expanded the definition of “woman,” we could eliminate FTMs, which is good because FTMs harm women.

    Those are the sentiments (most fairly directly) expressed in recent comments. Those are the nuances I see.

    Yet it is precisely those nuances that are painful to transsexual people.

    Unless you’re talking about a world without sexes, “getting rid of gender” cannot resolve transsexual people’s problems, which are about bodies, not roles. Gender may be a construct, but there are physically women and men. Those boxes are not as clear cut as people believe, and they certainly one can move between and through them, but the two basic shapes do exist. We cannot get rid of them unless we physically evolve as a species to a place where there is only one sex. (And then I can’t help but think about the Star Trek: TNG episode featuring the J’naii, a sexless androgynous race where people who leaned toward a gender were persecuted.)

    Transsexual people transition to obtain the physical and psychological comfort of aligning their bodies with their subconscious sex–the innate feeling that everyone has about how their body should be.

    Believing that trans people transition because of sexism obliterates the experiences that distinguish transsexual people from cissexual people. It is projecting cissexual experiences on to transsexual people rather than acknowledging that what transsexual people experience is fundamentally different from the average cissexual experience. Of course transsexual people know what societal pressure to conform to gendered standards of beauty feels like, and we are also smart enough to be able to distinguish those from being trans.

    People with female bodies experience overwhelming societal pressure to be people with female bodies! It is transsexual people who have the courage to buck societal norms, to do what’s best for them, to say, you know what? Everyone is telling me that my body should have breasts and hips and no facial hair, but I know that my body is a male body, and I’m going to make it that way.

    The real societal problem facing transsexual people face is not rigid gender roles, but how society wants to repress us and prevent us from transitioning. It is in that context that I experience your nuanced views as contributing to that repression. I understand that you have positive intentions, but I wanted to make it clear how others are experiencing your words.

  4. lagusta

    OK, Noah. Last words, here we go.

    My god, I don’t want anyone to think I want to prevent people from transitioning. You can’t possibly be that stupid, can you? I want people to do what they want to do, and I want them to think long and hard about what that is.

    I GET YOUR POINTS. You keep making them over and over and over and over and I GET THEM.

    Really, I do. And I agree with most of them.

    It’s not that I think people shouldn’t transition. I celebrate that we live in a society that is ever more kind to transgendered people, and I dream of a day when they will not be at risk for the horrible violence that our transphobic culture has condoned.

    I still have niggling qualms and nuances, but you know what?
    I’m no longer going to discuss them on the internet, because I no longer feel that it is a safe space for anyone to bring up any issues they might have with transgendered people.

    I’m tired. I’ve received too much hate mail from people who refuse to believe that there could be any shades of gray in this discussion. I just had three great phone conversations with three great friends about this, and that’s enough for me. I will continue to talk about it with real live people, and will continue to be nourished by people who can understand that if I have one qualm it doesn’t mean I’m a transphobe.

    If the goal of your arguments was to silence me, you’ve won. I’m shutting up.

    • Ida

      You use that term “nuance” a lot. But whatever “issues” you have with “transgendered people,” you can’t possibly understand the nuances of our daily lives. The beliefs you profess about our bodies and lives erase those nuances. I read over your essays and comments regarding trans people, and I firmly believe that your beliefs about us as a group fail to grasp the nuances of our lived experience.

      I believe you can change and become an ally to trans people if you truly wanted to. Many people who have held similar beliefs about us have changed once they actually became willing to take responsibility and be held accountable for what they say about trans people. And what I’m reading here is that you are going to stop saying these things over the Internet because you don’t want to take responsibility or be held accountable.

      I think this is unfortunate. But I also think that if you are unwilling to take responsibility or be held accountable for how what you say about trans people contributes to our oppression, then I do think it is a good thing that you will no longer be saying those things in such a public forum.

  5. leopold

    woah. ok first of all lagusta, i love you .and always come to your blog for a great heartfelt and intelligent opinion (btw, please don’t send me an email for bad grammar or punctuation as i never took typing and was a girl in a wood shop for that chosen period , or slam me for ‘being stupid’ cause its just another defense mechanism that we have all been guilty of using at one time or another )
    anyway, when one changes their opinion, and still has the internet trail of a previous thought, don’t you think it more gracious or frankly more honest to just state the facts of your new opinion and let the chips fall were they may? rather then ( or is it than) cut off ALL communication!? give me a fuckin break. you are so much better then that.
    with love,
    ps.- the whole reason i tuned into your blog tonight was to read your reaction to obamas speech . WTF. the nightmare is coming true. maybe you are blogging about it as we speak….

    • lagusta

      Do I really complain about commenters’ grammar? Maybe when they are saying assholey things, OK.

      Yeah, I feel you, my friend, I hear your points. Can I tell you a secret, if you promise not to tell? I am just TOO TIRED to continue. I can’t deal with it any more. I got way too personally invested, my feelings got hurt, and I’ve just got to step away.

      And also? Ida is somewhat right–my positions haven’t changed all that much. I’m still interested in them changing, but screaming “transphobe” at me isn’t really working. I still worry about the medicalization of gender. So it’s not that I have concrete positions I can even lay out and let the chips fall. I just don’t like how the Vegan Ideal peeps attacked me. I’m human!

      And also again? Doesn’t it seem like all the comments are just rehashing all the same points again and again and again and again? What’s the point?

      I didn’t watch the speech. I was doing my taxes like the loser business owner I am. I fail at civics. What did you think?

      • Noah

        OK, I can’t resist. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth.

        The way I’m seeing things is that people have said something about words you’ve written. We say that those words do not support trans people. But no one has ever called you a “transphobe.” It is not about you as a person.

        You have some ideas about trans people, ideas that make our lives difficult, and so we are trying to let you know that fact. But I know that you are more than your ideas. Those ideas are separate from Lagusta. I know that there is a being there who is distinct from those ideas, and it is her that I’m trying to get in touch with. Otherwise there would be no point in trying if you were so identified with your ideas that you had become this other creature, a “transphobe.”

        The fact that you feel our words are attacking you as a person and that you translated the adjective “transphobic” as applied to your writings into a noun to describe yourself might help explain why you feel so personally invested. If I felt that personally invested, I would be tired too!

        If you remind yourself that you are not your ideas, you are not things you’ve written, you are certainly not something first written five years ago, maybe that could be helpful in approaching future discussions on this or any other issue. You are a beautiful person, Lagusta! Don’t forget that.

      • lagusta

        Noah, why do you keep emailing me privately and asking me not to share your emails when you then post other emails and my responses to the blog? I don’t mind my private emails being posted, but I find it strange that you would then specifically ask me not to share your words (which of course I will not).

  6. brittany

    WOW. ok, this is a massive WTF??? those people are FREAKING INSANE and by “those people” i don’t mean trans or black or scientologist or whatever since i know it’ll be taken out of context… i mean people who take things WAY beyond the original intent, have no perspective whatsoever and are so focused on turning everything into some kind of academic -ism… SO FREAKING ABSURD. behaving like that is EXACTLY how to guarantee you’ll NEVER be respected or listened to. this might just be the biggest SRSLY EVER(!!!) in the history of our interwebz antagonism or whatever the hell it’s characterized.

    also, i think this “cis” crap is the biggest load of BS i’ve ever heard. is there really not enough oppression in the world? do we need to invent more and separate ourselves further from the smallish group that really does embrace each other and work to advance shared values? jeez…

    as for the PETA stuff, i’ll look at it when i get back to cali tomorrow and give you all kinds of weirdo feedback. because, really, how valuable is friendship/affinity/causes/whatever if we can’t also disagree on things? so much for valuing diversity and all that crap… hahahaha… BITCHESSSSSSSSSS.


    • lagusta

      I read the other comment before this one, and now I’m 100% back to loving you. And plus can I really say you can’t call people bitches when I did in the post?

  7. lagusta

    Oh boy, Noah, I wrote that on my phone and didn’t realize it didn’t even go to the right post…and I just figured out why you posted those comments. I’m still confused as to why you thought I would think you were from The Vegan Ideal and were sort of…pre-discussing those issues with me before Ida’s essay went up? I’m fuzzy on the timeline, but whatever. Who even cares.

  8. lagusta

    AND NOW WORDPRESS PUT MY LATER COMMENT ABOVE THE OTHER ONE! WORDPRESS! COME ON!! I could somehow go in and change it around, maybe, but I think instead I will just scream.

  9. truthvscompliance

    I definitely agree that women getting naked for campaign ads isn’t empowering (at least not truly) or that it doesn’t do a damned thing to help animals. I’m not sure why PETA is so obsessed with that. Not to mention – a lot of times, they are using women in ways that aren’t empowering on any level. Like the ABC ad with Dita Von Tease (did I mention I can’t stand that woman – and she’s a big advocate for wearing girdles and shaping down womens’ wastes! She started re-shaping her waste as a teen. Ick). If you really stop to analyse that ad, it’s incredibly offensive – and she’s not even naked. It’s how the subjects are placed in relation to each other – what she’s wearing VS what the man is wearing…
    If nudity and this fake porn sexuality can sell ideologies (which I doubt it can) why are there only WOMEN in their freaking ads. People are always like, “Yeah but men do nudy demos.” but it’s like – I’ve never seen an offensive naked picture of a man that depicts him as an animal or in any other traditionally degrading things nor have they made it to any of the buildboards (I’m not saying I think humans are above other animals but when they only compare women to exploited animals, it sends a very horrible message to anyone who knows nothing about feminism). I mean – I get that comparing the way women are looked at as meat, to how we objectify animals can send a powerful message but it doesn’t, unless one really understands anything about feminism but how many people guaking at Pamela Anderson have ever read a damned thing on feminism? How many of those same people claim to HATE feminists?
    The only PETA ad that I like is the one with a white man in a business suit bending over near a cows tit and it says “Skip the middle man.” Of course – the man isn’t being sexually objectified (rather the cow is) but I liked that ad because it shows a white collar man sucking on the tit of a cow (since white men are the major cause of animal exploitation) – genuis idea, if you ask me – a million times more powerful than any of these naked or trashy ads they use (and I call them trashy for the intent – not because they have naked women in them – I include the racist ads in that category of trashy).

    It also really bugs me when people get mad at feminists for questioning women who jump at the chance to do these campaigns as having a completely free choice without any influence. And what I mean is that – most women are socialized to decide their value based on how attractive they are, how sexy they are – how much attention they can get from men. Even as a feminist – that questions these things constantly – I still find myself tripping up on it… Like worrying about whether or not my boyfriend finds me hot or not and sometimes worrying that maybe he’d prefer a woman like Pamela Anderson (see how it’s affected my own thoughts and made me feel paranoid about my own acceptence?!?!). It’s like women who claim they made a completely free choice – free of any influence – to wear make-up. I find it incredibly hard to believe because we are given messages left and right to wear make-up. Our moms, our other female family members, siblings, peers, media…. If you can escape all of these influences – you are fucking superwoman and because I don’t believe in superwoman – I don’t believe women decide to wear make-up, completely free of societies efforts to force us into complying with it. I’ve always been the type to resist what is expected of me – so I have a heightened awareness of compliance when I see it.
    Like why does getting naked make a person feel empowered? What is empowering about it? The attention? Because when I ask a bunch of “whys” – this is all I can come up with – even with so-called commercial feminist porn. And if you need attention to feel empowered, then it ain’t true empowerment. What other reason could make getting naked in front of a camera feel empowering? I can’t think of one thing, other than the attention aspect (unless it’s purely for money – which also brings up questions of “free choice”).
    It bothers me that those of us who are opposed are completely discouraged from having a different opinion… But I guess that’s no different from any other kind of “politic”.

    • lagusta

      Yeah, SING IT SISTER. I hope you stick around here for a while. I like the way you ramble.


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