private vs public
kitten_claw
I've got a chicken & egg problem.... sort of. Basically, if conditions were better (greater socio-economic equality, abolishing poverty, improving public education), then the personal lives of individuals would improve because they would have resources they could use to become emotionally stable, mentally well, psychologically healthy, good partners in their relationships, good parents for their children. I've read about the positive improvements in developing nations where girls have been given access to education that they previously lacked. I've written about it before -- the educated girls did not marry so young and chose to have fewer children. Support from society gave these girls the power to have better lives for themselves and their family, and also empowered them to give back to their communities and continue improvements.

So, it seems pretty simple, right? Individual liberty and well-being are the direct result of socio-economic equality and the establishment of basic rights such as a right to education and basic care, like birth control. Change the system, and the people change with it.

Great, so let's change the system. The flaw with that idea is that people have to do things individually and collectively in order to change the system and everyone is so emotionally/psychologically damaged that we can't get our shit together. I honestly think I could have done a lot more to improve my community, my country, and the world if I hadn't had such a rough, crazy-making childhood. How many people would be taking better care of themselves and each other if they hadn't been raised in an emotionally and/or physically abusive environment? Abuse takes place in private. Public institutions do not seem to be able to protect people from their abusive families. So much suffering comes from this, especially since being middle or upper class will not automatically protect a person from being the victim of abuse from a family member. Children get abused at home, go to public school, where no one is able to detect their victimhood, and then they have to go home again to their private hell.

I want to change the world and bring down capitalism and all the other isms that go with it, but I also need to acknoledge my own personal, private emotional struggles. I can't give of myself until I am whole. I think this is true for so many people. How can we start a revolution when we are struggling just to live and heal and be sane?

Here is an example: women in the sex industry. The majority of them were sexually abused as children. How are they going to stand up for their rights (the right to not be raped or beaten at "work", or the right to not be sex objects) when they are already emotionally damaged, and their psychological state is influencing their choices. In fact, these women may not be mentally/emotionally well enough to be able to make choices that will promote their health and well-being. This isn't just about sex work, though. I'm saying that anyone who has been abused as a child is more likely to put up with mistreatment, abuse, and denial of their rights. They are less capable of advocating for themselves because of the prior abuse. If girls weren't abused, they would be less willing to submit to abuse in their adult lives.

solar utopia
kitten_claw
I was thinking about what I said about paper plates. Honestly, I think we could be getting so much clean energy from the sun and we could just use paper plates all the time b/c the paper could be recycled, the water used in the process could be filtered, the power could come from solar panels, and people could work in the paper plate factory.

Okay, I know that sounds kind of horrible, but obviously, in this SOLAR-TOPIA, there would be no traffic, the factories would have windows and nice views . . . or, fuck it! why not just have robots make the damn plates and clean, etc. That is not even far fetched. If a machine can give a blow job, I bet one could be made that could scrub the tub. Technology could free us from drudgery. To some extent, it has. We have dish washers, we don't churn butter . . . etc. Is capitalism holding us back because it's more profitable to the billionaire class to keep us in this technologically retarded condition. Sure, we have cell phones, etc., but the basic mode of living in developed countries has stagnated during the last 75 years.

So, anyway... in the land of SOLAR-TOPIA, much of the worst work would be done by robots and the rest would be done in pleasant conditions, and full-time employment would be no more than 20 per week. Part-time would be 10. As I've mentioned, I'm fond of the novel Looking Backward. For now S-T is going to borrow his economic system, for the most part. One difference, though, is that, except for in hospitals and other homes for those who need care, there would be no professional service industry and no entertainment industry (which is basically a service, after all). No massage, no waiter/waitress, no actor/actress no prostitutes -- no one serving one another except out of need (caring for the sick, old, young, etc.) or love/unencumbered desire. In other words, the personal serving of each other would no longer be coerced by the need for money, resources, or any other material benefits. People would sing, cook for each other, and have sex for free, for the joy of it without the pollution of money & capitalism. Without perfect freedom, people are obligated to do things to survive, or are tempted to do things out of insecurity and greed, that will be harmful to their psychological well-being. In SOLAR-TOPIA, everyone would be free from this harm.

So, perhaps the difference between "labor" and "productive labor" is that producing material goods in a factory is rather like collective-craftsmenship . . . obviously, there are huge differences between factory work and carpentry or whatever, but there is dignity in making useful things. Working as a chef or a maid is historically related to aristocracy and their servants. Types of work have never been equal and workers will never have guaranteed rights because the nature of certain kinds of work is inherently abusive.

housework is work
kitten_claw
I've been reading Red Feminism by Kate Weigand. She talks about Mary Inman's analysis of housework, which the Communist Party did not consider to be "productive labor." I'll admit right now that I don't know enough about these terms and the communist theories to understand the difference between labor and productive labor. Isn't it all considered work? Back in the day, in the 1930's and '40's, there were a lot more factory jobs, so maybe productive labor refers specifically to that. Maybe there was a distinction from the beginning between productive labor and service jobs, like waitressing, customer service, or whatever. Regardless of those old commie definitions, I think that work is work. It's your time and energy, you're not doing it for fun, you're doing it to live, and those are the basic qualities that define working or having a job (at least, that's my personal definition). So, I agree with Inman: housework is work. You're not washing the dishes for fun -- you're doing it because you have to. If you have enough money, you can hire a maid who will do it for you. Or you can go out to eat and someone who works there will wash your dish when you're done eating off of it. So, yeah, it's work. Even if a woman (or a man, or a child) is washing their own dishes in their own home and not getting paid, the act of washing is work because it is being done as a basic necessity of life, it takes time, energy, and it's not fun. I guess you could throw out your dishes and just use paper plates, but that is wasteful. Would communists have women stop washing dishes in favor of working at a paper plate factory? Obviously, making paper plates is "productive labor." But, why do we need all this productivity? We have enough or too much of so maney things. Taking care of the things (like ceramic dishes) is valuable labor because it helps to save resources (there is water involved, but we could be recycling water, so that it wouldn't be such a problem). I'm sure I'm not the first person to propose that housework should be compensated. The dichotemy b/w housework and work that is done outside the home was created by the industrial revolution. When most people farmed, lots of people worked at home because your farm is your home and your source of income. Not to mention the fact that many women have worked outside the home and participated in productive labor since the dawn of mankind. It is only the delusional notions held by upper class, white people that have led to an acceptance of the idea that there is any such thing as housework or women's work that could be meaningfully differentiated from the "productive labor" of men. There seems to be a common conflation of housework and "gathering" performed in hunter-gatherer societies. Men go out and hunt, women stay at home and gather. But, that doesn't even make any sense -- women were the ones bringing home most of the calories and they didn't accomplish that by confining themselves to a hut. Men may have traveled farther from base camp when they went hunting, but the physical distance is irrelevant. The point is, their contributions to survival were equally valuable. An even more distorted notion is "men hunt, women nest." What the fuck is nesting? That's what birds do -- female and male birds.

Anyway... time to take my meds...

probably said this before
kitten_claw
When I first started working as a stripper, a guy I knew (a friend of a friend) asked me if I felt like I was disrespected at strip clubs and treated like a sexual object. I said yes, of course. He wanted to know why I would do it, even though I was treated that way. I told him what I thought should have been obvious: I was already treated like a sexual object every day. Why not just accept it and try to make some money in the process? It seemed so reasonable at the time, but now I just wonder how I could have been so numb. How could I treat my body in such a cold, calculating way? And there I go, referring to my body . . . "my body" . . . like it was some THING . . . like my purse or my spatula! How could I treat myself in such a cruel, unfeeling way? I had already been primed by patriarchy and capitalism to fulfill my role, to submit, and to work actively to convince myself that I liked it.

Privilege vs Right
kitten_claw
A phrase I've seen around the internet lately, especially in feminist blog posts and articles is "check your privilege," which basically means "your opinion is invalidated by the advantages I assume you enjoy on account of your race, gender, body shape/size, etc." Is it really so wonderful to have the privilege to be somewhat less oppressed because I'm white, or because I'm an American, etc? That's like analyzing the plight of slaves by comparing their relative treatment (house slave vs field slave). Obviously, no one would deny that there was a difference in treatment, but they were all slaves. Some may have been given more privileges than others, but none of them had rights.

Similarly, women in different countries and in different cultures are given privileges, but they are not unconditional rights. Privileges are determined conditionally by the context in which women live.  This context includes, race, class, sexuality, etc. (duh!)

Even women's right to vote in the USA and other places seems kind of meaningless without all basic rights guaranteed. Rights we thought we'd won, like the right to abort a fetus, are constantly being attacked. The fact that voting rights and other rights were ultimately given to us by the ruling class (of wealthy white males) proves that it is not secure as a right at all. Did women vote on whether or not to have the right to vote? No! Women demanded that right and argued for it, but how is that any different from a child arguing with his parents in favor of being granted previously denied privileges? The way in which the right to vote was bestowed upon women is inherently patronizing. Women need to just do things without approval. But, not just women -- the proletariat in general. Those who hold the capital and property are the ones who are doling out the privileges.

We collectively support this system by accepting the value of money as fact. We protect those in power by respecting their "right" to own property and control resources. Their ownership is protected by the police and the military. If those who protected the oppressors only knew the ultimate consequences of the system they are physically guarding. Everyone is brainwashed into upholding a system of inherent inequality and hideous exploitation. The belief that people have basic human rights is instilled into us, but these rights are constantly violated and are not unconditional.

So, instead of checking your "privilege," examine your so-called "rights" and the power you actually have to control your life, your body, your time, your mind. If the only way to exercise your rights is by taking advantage of privileges (i.e. the right to buy a house requires the privilege of having enough money), then it isn't an unconditional right at all. It's just a fucking mind game. We're being forced to swallow hypocracy and then we fight amongst ourselves about who has more privileges -- as if that discussion is even going to change anything. The way to change things is to expose the roots of inequality and reject the institutions that perpetuate the oppressive system. We need ANARCHY to free us from physical coersion inflicted by (and on) the police and military branches. And we need COMMUNISM to free people from hunger & want, from the futility of competition, and from the inhumanity of profit driven industry.

self
kitten_claw
I was reading some stuff about women's right to abortion, and I was struck by the assertion that a woman's body is her property. Don't get me wrong -- my body is mine, your body is yours. But, to call it "property" seems strange. Is a man's body his "property" or is it inextricably linked to his inner/non-physical self? I can't help imagining that men are so comfortable and at home in their bodies that there is no clear distinction between body and self. For women, however, the body is a piece of property. Even if the female mind and female self are viewed as free and dignified with human agency, the female body is still an object. Framing the female body as an object that belongs to a woman is psychologically fracturing to a woman's sense of self. Even the phrase "love your body" implies that there is a separation: there is YOU and there is YOUR BODY. Until we can connect body and self, we will not be able to cultivate respect for women in our society because the female body will still be viewed and treated as an object.

sex "play"
kitten_claw
I hate it when people use the word "play" in relation to sex. Usually it seems to refer to kinky hookups and bondage stuff, but there was a blog post written by a woman who referred to her husband as her sexual "playmate." Obviously, she has the right to think of sex as something playful, but that kind of casual view of sex does not resonate with me. Instead of criticizing anyone's choice of words and their context, I'd like to get more personal. Why does this word bother me? What am I feeling about my own life that might cause me to have a gut reaction against thinking about sex as play.

(As I write this, I want nothing more than to show Ryan I love him. I want to give him physical affection, sexual attention, but I'm hurting inside and I don't know how to get past my own issues).

In my life, sex has never been playful. When I lost my virginity, I was mostly motivated by the fact that my best friend had just had sex for the first time. I felt competitive. Since she lost her virginity first, she was "winning" somehow. I know it doesn't make sense, but since I was insecure about my identity and self-worth, I was constantly comparing myself to others. From the beginning, sex wasn't intimate. I don't want to get into the nitty-gritty right now, but even my first sexual experience felt like a performance. I said what I thought I was supposed to say and did what I thought I was supposed to do. It felt pretty good, but I had to pee the whole time.

When I was 20, I started stripping. At that point, sex was certainly not play -- it was work. I wasn't a prostitute, but stripping is a part of the sexual exploitation industry. While working in strip clubs and at Jumbo's, I was sexually assaulted by customers many times. I told myself over and over again that I chose to do that kind of work, but it was actually a last resort. After trying to find work and failing, I went for the only option that was left. I also thought that I would be stupid not to strip because there were always ads in the back of the LA Weekly claiming that strippers could make hundreds of dollars every night.

Before I even started stripping, I was raped by my best (male) friend. That story is long and complicated, so I won't get into it right now. An older man I dated (my former sociology professor) also raped me. We had a sexual relationship and I was in the habit of staying over at his place on the weekend. One morning, he tells me that he "slipped it in" while I was asleep. He was laughing. I didn't even know it was rape. At the time, I thought it was my fault because I was in his bed.

A couple weeks before my first time dancing in a strip club, I was out with a friend and we were trying to score some coke. We knew a guy who was really skinny and seemed like he would have coke. We went to his appartment. He didn't have any drugs, but he had vodka, so we got drunk. I wanted to get used to stripping, so I offered to strip. One thing led to another, now all three of us are naked. My friend makes out with the guy. Then I make out with my friend. Then I go down on her. While I'm doing that, the guy penetrates me without my consent. So, yeah, raped again!

I've also been groped by children.

When I was in high school, a boy grabbed my hat. When I tried to get it back, he grabbed my boob. We were in the middle of the quad at school and lots of people saw and laughed at me. I never told anyone or did anything about it. I thought it was my fault.

When I was 12, my friend (the best friend who later raped me) suggested that we play strip poker. He was two years older than me. I didn't know any better. I'd been homeschooled, sheltered. I ended up in my underwear and bra. I thought it was hilarious. The joke was on me, as usual, and I didn't care because I'd already internalized a lack of respect for my body (because it is female). To me, my body and whole self were a joke. My mom cried. Then I cried. She was mad at me and at herself. I felt like it was my fault. I still feel shame when I think of that day.

So, that's a little bit of my personal history in regard to sex and sexual stuff. This history has been haunting me subconciously, but now it's all coming to the surface. I'm obsessed with rape and sexism because I've been a victim. Some people say that treating women as victims is not empowering, but when a person names the crime and (if they can) ther perpetrator, that is empowering because it is truth. I was sexually assaulted, raped, and exploited. It wasn't my fault. Knowing that it wasn't my fault is liberating. Being liberated from feelings of guilt and shame, being liberated from the mental gymnastics of pretending to not be emotionally injured -- THAT IS EMPOWERING. Why was I a victim? I fell through the cracks. I was neglected as a child. I was vulnerable because my family was poor. There are other, more personal, details that contributed, but socio-economic inequality was the most significant factor. 

capitalism
kitten_claw
Have I said this before? The porn industry (*cringe*) and prostitution have been referred to as the epidome of capitalism. I forget who said that, but the important thing is that the guy who said it was in favor of capitalism and the sex industry. So, the association is not some trumped up "commie" arguement -- it's straight from the capitalists themselves.

So, basically, if we smash capitalism, we'll smash the sex industry and every other exploitative industry -- which, would be awesome.

books and stuff
kitten_claw
I've always felt like my interests are scattered, yet linked, and that I'm constantly trying to learn a little bit, here and there, about all sorts of different things, but they're really all connected. I really have no career plan whatsoever, though. When I'm reading things and figuring things out and peicing things together, I ought to be relating all of that to my future career, but I always forget about that. I forget that I will be expected to get a job. I forget that I actually want to have a job, an income.

So, lately, I've been thinking that I need to organize my thoughts, my interests, and make a plan for the future. There must be things I can do right now in order to work towards that future. This sounds like basic stuff, but it feels impossible. I have never stuck with anything consistently. I'm not an expert on anything. I haven't honed my skills in any area -- not even writing! The idea of writing for a living has crossed my mind. Dr. Conway (my old crush!) told me that I should write. He said "whatever you persue in the future, you should write." I love editing, too. That's really the best -- so much easier than starting from scratch! I wish I could write copy, like on Mad Men. I guess that's one reason I hate that show -- they drifted away from the actual work they were doing into a Don Draper fuck fest. Advertising/marketing is facinating and I've always taken a sort of morbid interest in it, the way some people are interested in serial killers.

Anyway.... what was I saying? Oh, yes! Organizing my gosh damn thoughts and plans! See?! I have to fucking direction (other than druggy inertia). I'm supposed to be washing the dishes right now....

I got a lot of books from the library -- they are a part of my attempt to dig deeper and become an expert of something. I guess what I've been doing is skimming as many topics as I can until I find the one that strikes me as being significant enough to delve into. I think Ryan did the same thing with physics. Physics is made up of the underlying theories of the most basic functioning of the universe and everything in it (I suppose). For him, physics describes the most essential answers to the questions he wanted to answer -- or, at least, attempt to answer. I'm just speculating on his motivation, but I think I know my husband pretty well.

So, the books: microbiology and a few feminist books.

I guess all I'm trying to say is that, lately, I've found microbes to be a significant underlying factor in answering my own questions and food microbiology is actually a thing and a reasonable area of focus for my career. As far as feminism -- I'm coming back around to anti-capitalist feminism. Why? Because sexism, like all the other -isms, is based on the acceptance of hierarchies in society. Capitalism is the economic expression of the universal acceptance of hierarchical systems. So, feminism should essentially be a branch of anarchist philosophy. You might argue that feminism should only apply to the equality of women and men. Gender is its natural domain. But, hierarchies don't work that way. As long as any type of hierarchy is in place, there can be no equality. Perhaps that is the main issue with religion. In the major religions, there is always a God, or Gods, and/or gurus, that are "above" man (men and women). Once you have a God above you, the hierarchy is there -- how far down it extends and the specific manifestations vary, but placing God above implies that people are below and, naturally, someone else will be below humans, such as animals.

So, that's why I'm about to read The Sexual Politics of Meat.

commodification of sex vs brazen sexuality
kitten_claw
I'm not against anyone being sexual or dressing sexually in the context of their personal lives. What I have a problem with is the use of sex, sexuality, and sexiness being used to make money. If a woman is modeling or acting in pornography, some people might say that is empowering because she is making money, but who else is making money? Who is making the most money? Not the model. The people exploiting her and selling her image are the ones who are getting the greates financial benefit. Same with strippers -- each dancer has to give the club a percentage, so the club profits tremendously off of the women working there. I'm not saying this doesn't happen in other industries. Walmart, for instance, brings in huge amounts of money and pays their workers practically nothing. I'm just saying that sex work is just as exploitative and may have additional emotional consequences for workers because sexuality and the human body is so personal and intimate. In the music industry, musicians and bands are totally exploited by record companies. When music artists, like Amber Rose (whom I've been discussing with others on FB) are "brazenly sexual" it is obvious that it is not just a personal preference for looking sexy. Some people say that she is in control of her sexuality because she is choosing to "flaunt it" for her own personal gain. I would argue, however, that the people who gain most from her sexiness are those who are producing her albums. They are getting rich off of her willingness to make her sexuality public and put her body on display. She worked as an underage stripper -- again, this is not an empowering choice, it is the sexual exploitation of a minor, which is a crime and rightly so.

So, what would it mean to be truly sexually liberated? Sexual liberation requires a complete divorce of sex and money. Putting a price on your sexuality or access to your body is dehumanizing. Some people say, how is it different from other forms of work, where we sell our time or our labor? In a way it isn't different and that's why capitalism needs to be abolished. Under capitalism, everyone is exploited (except the few super-rich at the top). I think that what is especially troubling, though, about "sex work" is the intimate nature of the work, which I believe has inevitible psychological consequences for individual women and cultural consequences for our society because a sex worker is not just selling her time or her skills, but also her physical body. The idea that a price can be put on access to the human body is what turns the body into a commodity. How much to see her tits? How much to put my penis in her mouth, vagina or anus? It's basically like asking "how much for that piece of meat?" How could that ever be empowering for women? If one woman's body can be bought or "rented" by the hour, then all women are degraded.

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