?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous | Next

Category errors

PennyRed's written an interesting post about bisexuality and fourth wave feminism, which I pretty much identify with.

Part of the reason I rarely write or talk about my own sexuality is the suspicion that, as a bisexual woman who has had a string of male relationships and only a handful of experiences with women, I don’t have the authority to speak about it: I’m not a real queer. I am accustomed to defining my femininity however the hell I want – yes, I can wear biker boots and a short skirt and lipstick and shave my head, and my god I’m a feminist! – but I’ve been far more comfortable with letting others tell me what’s gay, what’s straight and what’s just plain perverted.

I have fewer than a handful of experiences with women, and none of them with women I was actually attracted to, although there have been some of those. I don't identify as bisexual, but I'm not quite comfortable being stuck in the heterosexual box, either. I suppose I don't like the fact that there are boxes in the first place. I think they're artificial, to a greater or lesser extent, and I hope we can eventually do away with the "quaint little categories". Ideally before the 51st century.

I was shocked when I found out that female ejaculation was popularly believed to be mythical, or just pissing the bed during sex, until fairly recently. There are still a lot of people who don't quite believe in it, and there hasn't been a great deal of scientific research into it, because who's interested in women's sexuality? Male sexual organs are clearly Important, but female? Not so much. It turns out that it's actually just in the last few centuries that it's been Not Talked About - people from ancient times up to the 17th century or so knew all about it. Education is clearly in order! Here's an article on The Art Of Female Ejaculation, including the history, and another on the anatomy of the clitoris. (It's bigger than you think.) And there's a video, too - just a woman drawing educationally.

(Hat-tip for the above links to miss_s_b)

I really, really don't care that a portrait of Myra Hindley was very briefly visible in a VisitLondon promo video in Beijing. Why is this news? And why does everybody have to jump on the bandwagon to tell us how disgusted they are? It's a portrait that was in the Royal Academy ten years ago and VisitLondon have been using the video for ages. It doesn't mean they're using Myra Hindley as a representation of Britain - it was "here's a shot of a pretty art gallery", not "look at our great murderers!!!". If the press and politicians think this is a catastrophe, the London Games are going to be seen as an absolute disaster, because bigger mistakes than this WILL be made. At least it only seems to be the British press who are going nuts.

On the other hand, I'm improving fast at baseball.

Comments

( 16 comments — Comment )
momentsmusicaux
Aug. 24th, 2008 10:43 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the clitoris forks into two bits that go either side of the vagina.
Doesn't everyone know that?
marcella_riddle
Aug. 25th, 2008 12:26 am (UTC)
It's silly season; I'm not surprised.
andrewducker
Aug. 25th, 2008 08:30 am (UTC)
"I think they're artificial, to a greater or lesser extent"

Of course they are, they're categories. All categories are artificial.
marrog
Aug. 25th, 2008 09:55 am (UTC)
IAWTC

Also, though, I think it's worth noting that we are always expected to label ourselves, in every sense, and very few of our labels are entirely appropriate. The important thing is that, given that you will be labelled either way, you have a choice to make between picking the one you'd rather have and accepting it, or facing a life of having to explain/defend yourself - either your choice not to have a label, or the definition of the label you've chosen.

When I say I'm gay it means something totally different than for the next person who says they're gay. I'm more attracted to men than some women I know who identify as bi. I also know several women who are very definitely attracted to women who are nonetheless more comfortable identifying as heterosexual. The label means nothing, and more and more people are coming to realise that. But rather than explaining in great detail the subtle nuances of your personal choices and predilictions, why not pick a sticker and then elaborate only if it's actually pertinent to the conversation?

In conclusion, I guess, it's your perogative not to label yourself and I wholeheartedly support that, but in the same way that we, the labelled, bear the load that we have to take (or where appropriate elaborate on and attach provisos to) the connotations that come with our label, true or not, you, the unlabelled, must accept the burden of a life of questions, cajoling and hostility from those who can't accept something left undefined.

Edited at 2008-08-25 09:57 am (UTC)
andrewducker
Aug. 25th, 2008 10:00 am (UTC)
"very few of our labels are entirely appropriate"

IAWTC :->

Labels are definitely nothing more than a first stab, an approximation, a starting point for a conversation. You either pick one that's close enough and live with it grating slightly, or you have the long conversation to describe things 'properly' a lot.

Of course, when you bump into people who believe that labels map perfectly onto reality you have real problems. But ontological hardliners are always a pain to deal with.
marrog
Aug. 25th, 2008 10:12 am (UTC)
ontological hardliners are always a pain to deal with.

That's an awfully long term to describe "stupid people"
andrewducker
Aug. 25th, 2008 10:14 am (UTC)
There are many, many people who are perfectly smart, but believe that the world can be perfectly described, or that descriptions are anything more than the mapping of our perceptions, and not the thing itself.

Just because they haven't examined those assumptions about the world in great detail doesnt make them stupid - it's merely a lack of education or interest in the underlying nature of reality and our experience of it.

Edited at 2008-08-25 10:15 am (UTC)
marrog
Aug. 25th, 2008 10:32 am (UTC)
I guess I was eschewing the usual distinction I'd make between stupidity and ignorance in favour of the snappy one-liner. :-P
andrewducker
Aug. 25th, 2008 10:36 am (UTC)
Aaah, you were simplifying your categories for brevity/wit and I was failing to match it with my categories :->

Yeah, you just happened to hit one of those things that annoys me - because I bump into people labelling anyone that disagrees with them as an idiot, which means they don't have to try and deal with them as "real people", but can just ignore their opinion.

I mean, I know a few smart Christians - I think their beliefs are barking, but that doesn't make them idiots.

(I'm coming around to the idea that more of these conversations should happen in person, because discussion works so much better that way, and these misunderstandings are easier to deal with. Thank goodness you're moving in next door)
marrog
Aug. 25th, 2008 10:46 am (UTC)
Yeah, you just happened to hit one of those things that annoys me - because I bump into people labelling anyone that disagrees with them as an idiot, which means they don't have to try and deal with them as "real people", but can just ignore their opinion.

*Nods* Absolutely. Interestingly this irritates me more in fields of the arts than in politics/religion/moral issues/ethics, because the technical prowess of certain types of music/art/even film are, to me, objectively quantifiable at least on some level. I intensly dislike hearing "all pop/musicals/westerns/country music/prog sucks" - I don't like all of those things but I can acknowledge that that doesn't mean they're without merit. I can forgive people for lacking in objective reasoning and a little distance when dealing with emotional issues like religion but it's a damn sight less forgiveable (albeit also less damaging) in the arts.

What I would say though is that although I do in fact believe that folk who don't agree with my way of thinking are valid and potentially intelligent (if in this instance ignorant), they're still completely wrong. But that's me embracing the concept of my own personal objective (if plastic) Truth as Absolute (I think we've discussed that before).
andrewducker
Aug. 25th, 2008 10:55 am (UTC)
Absolutely. Interestingly this irritates me more in fields of the arts than in politics/religion/moral issues/ethics, because the technical prowess of certain types of music/art/even film are, to me, objectively quantifiable at least on some level.

Yes, but...

While individual discussions of the nature of any on category are open to discussion and have no real right/wrong, whether or not categories in general are something that are objective/subjective _is_ arguable from an objective viewpoint. Ontology,epistemology, logic, etc. are arguable as more than opinion - the things you use them to construct have rather more opinion involved.

It's similar to your example, in fact - one can argue back and forth about whether a particular song is rock, rap, metal, etc. - but one cannot argue about which notes it contains.

And yes, I think of certain things in my own Truth as being absolute - but that's a fairly small subset of reality. Most things I remain flexible on, to varying degrees.

Edited at 2008-08-25 10:56 am (UTC)
marrog
Aug. 25th, 2008 12:01 pm (UTC)
I think of certain things in my own Truth as being absolute - but that's a fairly small subset of reality. Most things I remain flexible on, to varying degrees.

Oh, I'm flexible on many points. The important thing is that what I believe right now, even if it's different from what I believed ten minutes ago, is now the Absolute Truth. It might not be an important thing that I'm right and everyone else is wrong about, but the fact remains that whatever it is I think right now is the truth.
andrewducker
Aug. 25th, 2008 12:07 pm (UTC)
So if I asked you what the population of Japan was, whatever answer you gave me would be something you believed to the The Absolute Truth?

Or am I misunderstanding what you're saying? Because, as I'm sure you can tell, this isn't quite working in my head :->
marrog
Aug. 25th, 2008 12:38 pm (UTC)
You're not misunderstanding, I'm under-specifying. In this instance I'm referring to the Truth on topics like Morality and Evil and other abstract, aguable and subjective concepts, not quantifiable facts.

And yes, it is one of my Absolute Truths that some facts are not quantifiable.
andrewducker
Aug. 25th, 2008 12:48 pm (UTC)
Aaah. So if I said "Pedophiles - lock em up, try to treat them, or just shoot em in the head?" then you'd think about it, come up with your Absolute Truth on the right way to handle the dirty foot-fanciers, and that'd be What We Should Do.

Although you'd reserve the right to say "I dunno, there isn't a right answer to that one."

I can live with that. After all "Homosexuals, stone them to death or give them hugs?" is a moral choice, and thus purely down to taste, but I know where my Absolute Truth stands on it :->
marrog
Aug. 25th, 2008 12:55 pm (UTC)
Yep! There we go.

(PS: You'd put 'em all on an island and let them all die of AIDS, right? Dirty Gays...)
( 16 comments — Comment )

Profile

bad wolf
pickwick
Notes from extinction

Latest Month

November 2010
S M T W T F S
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
282930    
Powered by LiveJournal.com