Attraction, Objectification and Sexual Culture

23Nov09

This post has been guest posted at Harlot’s Parlour

Chasers. Admirers. Fetishists.

Words that often create a very emotional response from trans folk and many other groups for whom such things apply to. If you’re not in the know (and you probably aren’t, considering my audience) there’s a bit of explaining to do here. Let’s start with attraction.

Attraction (physical or conceptual) is, quite simply, a tendency towards sexual arousal or interest towards a given set of physical traits or a given set of conceptual traits. This tendency is almost always inherent to the individual, sometimes functions in a fluid fashion (but not always) and often results in physical and psychological effects when triggered by being in the presence of, in contact with, or in the position to notice an individual with these traits. This may not occur if traits that would constitute a “turn off” are present on the other person (something that either causes revulsion or simply reduces any sexual interest without causing revulsion). And only if the individual in question has turn offs. Not all people do.

Yes, I know, it sounds a little bit cold and science-y. But that really is the best way to describe it. All it is happens to be what sparks sexual interest. It can be parts of a body or it can be concepts orientated around a person. Your attraction triggers could include someone’s conceptual existence as a goth, or round perky breasts. You could be interested in folk who sing beautifully or in feet. There are certain accepted zones of attraction. These are called orientations and tend to be erasing to other attractions (fetishphobia/kinkphobia) and largely cissexist and binarist in their organization conceptually (as I’ve pointed out in this post). Then there are mostly ignored conceptual attractions (like being attracted to goths) that are pushed into personal taste, despite being as personal, as inherent and as major a part of one’s attraction as orientation. And then there are the attractions that are not accepted (but in varying degrees) and those are fetishes (and in the worst cases, paraphilias). Now, attractions are not wrong. In fact they are never wrong. They are simply a naturalistic part of many human minds, present in all but those who are asexual (no attraction type, not asexuals with no sex drive, they may still have attractions). There are some attractions that are a serious problem for the individual, for instance, pedophiles have an attraction that will invariably lead to rape if they act on it (due to children not being able to consent) but even in those cases, the attraction isn’t the bad thing, the actions are. And there are some attractions wherein the concepts are dangerous for the attracted party, like certain fetishes wherein one is eaten by another. Cannibalism basically. Engaging in sex based on that attraction could get one killed. Rape/surrender of control fantasies are risky because if you’re with someone who doesn’t care if you need to stop, you will likely actually get raped. Most dangerous attractions can be circumvented with simulation, which doesn’t actually invoke the dangerous or problematic aspect, just fools one’s arousal with simulations and faking of the triggers. So even in those cases, the attractions aren’t a problem, provide an adequate simulation and outlet can be found.

So attraction itself is simple and not really subject to ethical quandary.

This includes attractions to marginalized folks. Yes, there are attractions to marginalized folks. Every body type, likely even every concept can be an attraction trigger. In my case, there are folk out there that find the mixture of certain bodily traits on me very attractive. I have a penis, breasts, a curvy body, a minimum of body hair and no vagina. Some individuals find me attractive. Some of those individuals who do, refer to themselves as chasers/admirers/fetishists.

And here’s where things get sticky (that was not a sex joke, fuck off). You see, the attraction itself is not the issue. It never is. What is the issue are the things that surround the attraction, the attracted person and the person who is attractive to them. These things are referred to here as a Sexual Culture. Sexual Cultures are a combination of cultural elements, social trainings and ideologies that orientate themselves around sex, usually in a given context. A puritanical sexual culture is one wherein all forms of sex are evil except for one and only done in certain situations. BDSM sexual culture is one wherein the policies of the ethical system of RACK (risk aware consensual kink) rule every interaction and any that are not ruled by RACK are labeled abuse and struck down. Sexual Cultures are where stereotypes about sex, dating rules, sex rules, sexual conduct guidelines, sexual philosophies and the way that people are treated comes from when it comes to sex.

This exists everywhere. Rape culture theory in feminism? It’s a description of the Sexual Culture of straight cis men. This sexual culture is one that takes the wholly harmless attraction to women (usually cis in that context, cuz feminism fails at accounting trans stuff, even though rape culture affects trans women worse usually) and piles on objectification, bodily ownership, bodies constructed as worth less, sexual violence and a host of other awfulness. The attraction to women is not the problem, the problem is the Sexual Culture around it.

So too does this apply to chasers and attraction to trans women (and the lesbian community’s fetish for trans men and possibly even FAAB nonbinaries). I can’t speak too much on fetishes for nonbinaries in general as I’m not familiar with most of what they deal with. Same with trans guys (luckily others have gone in depth on the topic like on this link). So I will be discussing the Sexual Culture of Chasers/Admirers and folks who are attracted to us but don’t id as chasers/admirers. I may also make some references to the Sexual Culture of Devotees (or individuals who are attracted to people with disabilities that do not id as devos) due to my own disabilities. If you want more in depth material on this topic in relation to disability you should read the FWD post by meloukhia on it. Another source on devotees and the PWD community can be found here However, the concepts are more or less the same for these two groups (and presumably, this may even be able to be extended to fetishes for POC and fat individuals, but as I possess white privilege and thin privilege I am not in a position to say much on those two topics.) so you can safely extend what I’m discussing here to the Devotee Sexual Culture as well.

One of the things you’ll notice in the posts above is a laundry list of awful, objectifying shit done to PWD by some of these folks (picture stealing, pushing for sexual stuff before trying to get to know the person, etc). A similar laundry list exists for many Chasers. The oppositional assumption on our parts goes a bit off the wall however as most will assume that simply possessing the attraction in question is enough to make someone a creepy objectifying asshole (something the second post linked goes into). This is a flawed assumption, due to the fact that attractions aren’t what causes objectification, Sexual Culture is. Much like how some radical feminists will assume that any cis man attracted to cis women (once again erasing trans folk, yay unradical feminism) will invariably objectify her by the mere fact that she is marginalized and he is privileged. The power dynamic is certainly a problem and not being mindful of it can create serious problems for partnerships wherein one or more individuals are privileged and one or more of the other individuals are marginalized on the same axis. But this doesn’t necessarily mean one will objectify the other(s). Much like with straight cis men vs. women (cis or trans, of any attraction type), devotees and chasers only can become objectifiers if the Sexual Culture they are steeped in is an objectifying culture and they allow themselves to be influenced by it.

And this is not assured.

Now that we have the reflexive assumptions handled let’s talk about how objectification finds it’s way into these groups (and yes it is out there) The Sexual Culture of a group that is attracted to a marginalized group is often subject to the same dehumanizing elements of the primary culture it exists in that causes the marginalization of the group in question. Cis men have cis male privilege and participate in the culture that marginalizes all women (and does so even worse to trans women). Their sexual culture has been influenced by this primary culture, adopting the dehumanization, worth loss, public ownership, removal of agency and exploitation that all women face (trans or cis, although trans gets nailed harder due to the intersection of womanhood and transness). So too does this apply to the sexual cultures of Devotees and Chasers/Admirers alike. PWD and trans folk are subjected to dehumanization, worth loss, public ownership, exploitation, removal of agency, construction as having wrong bodies and construction as being irrelevant just through the standard function of the primary society that these groups all operate in. These forces exert an influence (sometimes a very strong one) on the Sexual Culture. In turn, the influenced Sexual Culture can take on these aspects, which are made intensely worse by the fact that the Sexual Culture is orientated around sex (wherein loss of agency, dehumanization and etc creates a Rape Culture because these things translate to ridiculously harmful sexual involvements when sex is thrown in). So bam, just like with het cis guys and women, these cultures spill over folks attracted to PWD and folks attracted to trans women. Which means that these folk (just like het cis guys) have an uphill battle to fight against a culture that tries to drown them in the idea that we’re all just sexual objects.

This is not helped by the number of devotees and chasers (I don’t have exact numbers, so I can’t say if it is a minority or a majority. Most likely, somewhere in the middle) that give into this social training (or absorb it unawares) and become creepy stalker fuckjobs or exploitative assholes. These folks not only marginalize the hell out of us, engaging in exploitative, boundary ignoring behavior that at best is stalkeresque and creepy and at worst involves rape and violence, they also create a very strong fear of anyone having the attraction in our group (as per the assumptions made above). Because let’s face it, many of the creepy asshole types in these fetish groups will try to abuse sex positive views and twist the situation into a question of attraction, while trying to push the eyes off of their just utterly awful behavior. This fucks things up fairly badly for the folks who aren’t creepy at all and still id as the group in question. And this is an issue in and of itself. Individuals attracted to PWD and individuals attracted to trans women are often regarded as sick, fucked up or wrong somehow. Which isn’t good for them and it’s pretty damn bad for us too. It constructs our bodies and us as undesirable (both PWD and trans folk face this) and anyone that does is broken somehow. The creepy fuckjobs who infest these groups and thrive due to the problematic Sexual Culture of the group further enforce this idea of an attraction to my body as being broken (which further stigmatizes my body, just a giant clusterfuck everywhere) because they act so awful that we start practicing oppositionalism just to protect ourselves.

You really do get into a habit of flipping out when you hear the word chaser or admirer. That protective shell builds when someone gets the “omg that’s hot” look in their eyes when they find out you’re trans. That protective shell is even thicker if you’ve been stalked, had pictures stolen, or even was exploited, abused or raped by a possible chaser type (as I was). And this has an effect, just like in the linked comment, the solution Goldfish offered to the friend in question was to not identify as a devotee. Because the name itself, the identity associated with the attraction is in and of itself stigmatized now because of this oppositionalism and because of the creepy fucks who claim the title. Same with chasers. I mean, let’s face facts. If someone came up to me and said, “hey, I know you’re trans and I find that really attractive, I’m an Admirer” my alarms would go off and my walls would go up really quick, unless I knew the person well and knew they weren’t one to objectify me. But the solution really isn’t for them to find a new name. Identity is a tough thing to drop and really the identity isn’t the problem. The problem is that they are steeped in this very bad culture that creates some very bad apples and those apples subsequently go out and make our lives a living hell. Oppositionalism doesn’t really solve this, it also doesn’t really protect us. The really creepy fucks will just pretend not to be chasers at all if they really want to manipulate us. Putting guards everywhere to keep out folks with a given id will not fix that.

So what do we, as marginalized people, do? What should they, as those who are attracted to us, do?

Well for one, it isn’t our responsibility to fix the people who hurt us and subsequently clear the names of the people who don’t hurt us but are associated with those people who do. In fact, our only responsibility is to be mindful of the actual risks and dangers and to avoid stigmatizing ourselves to ourselves. So we need to learn to carefully separate attraction from objectification so that we’re no longer asserting that finding our bodies attractive is some awful horrible thing. That’s the only thing left to do. We aren’t obligated to trust folk as, after all, none of you wear signs. So handling the conceptual end of it and preventing our bodies being further construed as wrong, broken or bad is where our work ends.

The majority of the work falls to those who are in these communities, who id this way, to clean up their own houses. What does this mean? Ethical Devotees and Ethical Admirers, the folks who just have an attraction and are decent folk, who don’t objectify and love the person not just the body or concept, have the job of cleaning up their respective communities. This entails many of the same things that cis heterosexual men have to do to avoid objectifying and hurting women (cis or trans) in general. I’ll give it to you all in a list:

So to ethically minded Devotees, Admirers, Chasers and other fetishists, this is what you need to do to clean house and clear the names of your communities, while clearing the harmful objectifiers from your ranks and avoiding becoming one yourself:

1: Be Mindful of Privilege: There is a very unequal power dynamic in any relationship you have with the folk you’re attracted to. Work to compensate for it. Work to comprehend what advantages you have and avoid invoking them. Make sure that this mindfulness is an expected trait in your community. Understand that as a cissexual and/or cisgendered and/or currently abled person you may be regarded as a danger to us because we can’t determine who’s who among folk. So be cautious and be respectful.

2: Fight The Culture: Boycott the websites that steal pictures of folks with disabilities or take unwanted pictures of trans folk and display them. Speak out against objectifying behavior and stress the importance of safety, consensual involvement, love, empathy, safe words and the dangers of privilege. Call out problematic statements and actions by your devotee or chaser peers. If you know a friend in your community who goes into support group chats or goes to activist and support conventions to troll for a quick fuck, call him, her or hir out. Make sure the community knows of that person’s bad actions and make sure that such a thing is not condoned.

3: Don’t Expect Cookies: Face it, it’ll be years before many of us will feel safe with fetishists. Many of us never will. In fact, some of us will likely always just be creeped out by your attractions (cuz of personal taste). And that’s even if you make huge strides in changing your Sexual Culture overnight. Chances are, there will still be static from folk on you for your attractions and ID, because this fear and disgust at the objectifiers has been building for a very long time. Not everyone is gonna wanna be your friend. Don’t push it. We do have a right to protect ourselves and since we can’t know who is trustworthy, if someone is creeped out by you or wants space, give them space. The more you push your way in with folks who already have reason to worry about your peers, the more you’ll end up coming across as one of the creepy ones and hurting your cause.

4: Be Mindful of Context: Having the hots for someone can sometimes make folks act stupid. I fall over myself when a cute girl is nearby, usually blushing and making words not function quite so well in my mouth. Folks who are used to being pursuers can sometimes come on too strongly and not think when they meet someone who really sparks them. Be mindful of where you are, who you’re talking to and other factors. You might be at a kink rally, lots of fetish minded people together, but that doesn’t mean everyone is going to have the same fetish as you. Assuming that a PWD or a trans woman at a table is going to be cool with you trying to go into scene with them or even swooping right in to ask them out is a bad call. It really comes down to the same sort of thing as regular dating. Get to know the person before you go for the sex. Unless you’re in a context where it’s basically an orgy party or something, and even then, considering the assholes who are your peers, you might still want to ask permission first.

5: Stop Bad Shit From Going Down: If you see someone creeping us out, acting fucked up or exploiting one of us, don’t let it continue. Step in and say, “hey, look, she doesn’t want to talk to you, back off” or “stop trying to touch him”. Or if you’re less confrontational take the offending individual aside and speak to them in private about their lack of tact and their creepy bullshit. Oftentimes apologizing on behalf of your peers goes a long way to reminding us that hey, there are ethical devotees and chasers out there, that aren’t giant douchebags. They’re also helpful to us cuz well, life is stressful for marginalized folk.

6: Be Mindful Of Our Feelings: Don’t say things like, “I love your people”, or “your kind is so hot to me”. That’s creepy, othering, privileged and just fucked up. We aren’t sex dolls. We aren’t walking porn. Treat us like people. And if you already do, make sure your peers do too. If we look uncomfortable, back off (or get your friend to back off). Don’t expect sex and don’t let your peers expect it either. A big portion of rape culture is entitlement and a lack of empathy. If you care about our feelings more than how much you want us in bed (or even just want to date us) you will be golden in avoiding going down the bad path. If we find your attractions creepy, don’t make a damn argument about it. It’s no different that being a little freaked out by bloodplay or scat (ew scat), different folk have different tastes and certain things just squick certain people. If you stick around and try to push us, you’re just adding to the problem. If one of us says, “get the fuck away from me”, go, “I’m sorry you feel that way. Bye.” and walk. Any other option will likely just add to the problem, stress us the fuck out (which we do not need as marginalized people) and make you look like a creepy doucheface.

7: Don’t Blame The Victims For Not Trusting Your Kind: Always remember too, it’s your peers who ruined this for you, not us. Cis het guys don’t have call to yell at girls who don’t trust them for being untrusting. The massive number of rapes done by guys, the abuse, the exploitation and the unwanted objectification done by het cis guys is why this is going on. Same for us. We’ve gotten stalked, our privacy has been invaded, some of us have been abused and even raped by people who have your same attractions and claim your same title. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t like them because there’s no way for us to know what you’re like at first or even second impressions (like mentioned on this post). So instead of pissing and moaning at us because we’re rightfully very scared, worried and apprehensive, handle your people, fix your group, clean house. Don’t expect us to endanger ourselves cuz you’re nice. That means you aren’t so nice after all.

8: Avoid And Stop Entitlement: In the end we’re people. We have agency, will and we make our own choices. We have our own wants, needs or desires. Those needs and desires may not include you. Get over this. And for those that are already good there, make sure your friends get over it too. Us being rare or unusual does not entitle anyone to sex with us, pictures of us or anything else. It does not entitle folks to stalk us or try to learn our address, real name, etc. It does not entitle folks to catcall or to walk up to us and say sexual things without even knowing our names. Don’t walk around as if you own us and if you don’t, make sure none of your peers do this too.

And that’s just the main ones. The fact is, folk being attracted to my body is a good thing overall. The disgust I see on the faces of lesbians and the hate from straight cis guys isn’t ever pleasant and I rarely feel sexually appealing or even nice looking. Someone finding my body type attractive is good and it’s a huge fucking shame that a whole mess of objectifying, creepy douchenozzles have to ruin that. Now, if you find it creepy that someone finds your body attractive, that’s fine too. I know for a lot of folks, they don’t want to have a mixture of traits or they’re working to treat whatever is causing their disability. That’s fine, but that doesn’t change the fact that many of us are not changing anything (non-ops, PWD who are happy as is, etc) and would like to be loved. I’m not ever gonna look at you and say, “oh god, you’re attracted to trans folk/PWD? You’re fucking disgusting.” There are certain fetishes that I find a little offputting (if you find my IBS sexy, that would be offputting because it involves poop and ew poop) but your attraction is not bad. What is bad is your peers (or you, if you’re not so ethical) acting creepy, not respecting us as people and doing exploitative, abusive or objectifying things without our agency, will and choice being honored. That is the problem. And it’s up to you to fight it.

Clean house. Clear your name by stopping the awfulness. And then maybe we can all enjoy the benefits of living in a world where everyone’s body has someone that can get that spark from it.



34 Responses to “Attraction, Objectification and Sexual Culture”

  1. 1 GallingGalla

    I see the point that you are getting at, but I cannot say I entirely agree with you regarding attraction, in isolation, being totally unproblematic. The thing is, I don’t think one can take attraction out of very the context that makes it problematic, because the attraction is shaped by that context. Using the cisnormative example – if a cis het man is attracted to the tits and vagina owned by a cis het woman, that is in itself objectifying. Why is he not attracted to *the whole person*?

    Now using my case, if some cis het man (or cis lesbian, i have had some very creepy interactions with them, too) is attracted to me because I have tits and a penis – no, sorry, I will never be interested in that person and I will never view them in anything other than a negative light. I will be interested in someone who finds *me as a whole* attractive, someone who just happens to have tits and a penis and Asperger’s and … along with the million other things that are a part of me.

    Someone who id’s as a chaser / fetishist, or who makes it clear that that is what they are without id-ing as such? I walk, period.

    (and to make clear, I am not against fetishes in general. I’ve no problem with fetishes for activities, such as BDSM or the above-mentioned bloodplay, and even those that are personal squicks for me, I just don’t participate in. It is fetishes that objectify people for their body parts that I am opposed to.)

  2. That’s fine to walk. If you find it personally creepy and whatnot. I just don’t agree with the moralistic/ethical stance you’ve taken on it.

    Sexual attraction is not the same as love or viewing someone a certain way. Being attracted to certain parts of someone doesn’t mean that they don’t love that person for who they are, nor does it mean that you view that person as just those parts. And alternately being attracted to every single bit of a person doesn’t mean that they do love that person and won’t objectify them. One can easily be attracted to every part of one sexually, and still not see them as a person.

    That attraction literally is just a response to stimuli. It isn’t controlled, it isn’t purposeful. It’s just an unconscious brain function. So I can’t take the stance you have, because being attracted only to, say two parts on someone isn’t the same as viewing that person as only the sum of those two parts. That latter is objectification, the former is closer to a physiological reflex. And they are not invariably linked.

  3. “In my case, there are folk out there that find the mixture of certain bodily traits on me very attractive. I have a penis, breasts, a curvy body, a minimum of body hair and no vagina. Some individuals find me attractive. Some of those individuals who do, refer to themselves as chasers/admirers/fetishists.”

    Or in my case, someone just trying to bring sexy back and possibly light a room on fire due to collective hottness.

  4. Okay, I finished reading the whole post now and just kinda want to comment so other people don’t think I’m a tool (Because I know you know I am and <3 me for it)

    I concur. Attraction and sexual culture are two vastly different things. Also due to the simple number of things that people are attracted to. We have mental checklists of things we're attracted to, physical stuff that maybe just set us off, non physical stuff that usually seals the deal (I mean even the sexiest person on earth could be a big douchebag and I'm sure Bill Gates looks mighty good to a lot of women since he's got such a huge… bank account, personally, I like nerds so I thought he was cute when he was in university)

    The only problem that comes in with attractions is yea, the culture behind them. So for physical traits I prefer skinny short nerdy guys like Seth Green *dreamy sigh* over the classical hunk. And sometimes stigmatism against someone can damage attraction (Like finding the guys from Twilight and Vampire Diaries so unappealing because of the damn books) Sometimes those unattractions can just balance the attractions into simple friendships. It's the sexual culture that you belong to that determines how you will view a lot of your attractions and how you will deal with them. And culture is something that not just comes from you, but is essentially a true stereotype perpetuated by your peer groups and society at large.

    so blah blah blah, I dunno where I was going with this but I'm not a creepy stalker person…

    Okay I am, but I'm not YOUR creepy stalker person. I'm Seth Greens.

    *dreamy sigh*

  5. 5 Nom Chompsky

    “If one of us says, “get the fuck away from me”, go, “I’m sorry you feel that way. Bye.” and walk.”

    This should be true of essentially every scenario. I find that people’s personalities show a strong internal consistency; i.e. the way they approach attraction is the way they approach everything else. I don’t particularly care whom anybody is attracted to (unless, of course, it’s me), but attraction isn’t an excuse for being an asshole.

    I don’t dispute anything written here at all; it’s just…inexplicable to me that people think that feeling aroused by a person somehow gives them carte blanche to do utterly ridiculous things like invade that person’s privacy or make demands of them. Protip: If you wouldn’t do something if you had no sexual interest in the person, that’s a pretty good indicator that you shouldn’t do it if you do have that attraction.

    On a different note, I think the only way to avoid marginalization or fetishization is for people to actually mingle in an organic way. If you don’t have any regular, nonsexual friends of a particular group (not even particular niche groups, either — I have male friends who don’t even have female friends), there’s no way you’re going to be able to treat that group as anything other than a fetish.

  6. Genderbitch: Always remember too, it’s your peers who ruined this for you, not us.

    No, not my feminist, progressive peers. It is MALES, at least in the case of the devos. I don’t know of any women-devos who have behaved the way male-stalkers do, and I’ve never heard of any. I will NOT refer to male-stalkers as any PEER of mine, excuse me. (Male heterosexuals have been socialized to act like stalkers in the first place.)

    GallingGalla: It is fetishes that objectify people for their body parts that I am opposed to.)

    But if the fetishized body part is “acceptable” and mainstream (blond hair; thinness; large, usually surgically-enhanced breasts) then it doesn’t even get called a fetish. It’s totally “normal” to prefer and fetishize surgically-enhanced breasts. Those guys don’t get called fetishists at all, even though they may be as obsessive about their preferences as any chaser. Only minority sexual tastes are judged fetishes.

    BTW, thanks for letting me comment here, since I was banned (again!) from the FWD thread of Meloukhia’s that you linked above. (FTR, I think it’s pretty shitty/unethical to start a thread specifically to trash an entire group of people without allowing any of them to defend themselves.)

  7. If anyone is bringing back my hotness, I’d want it to be you. XD

  8. Basically. You do get kind of creepy about Seth Green sometimes tho. Just saying. XD

  9. Some folk just feel very entitled. It sucks.

    But yes, mingling is good in general. It enables learning, connection and social function that isn’t orientated around sex. This is good cuz it combats problematic sexual cultures and prevents them in the first place.

  10. Well no, you see, the chaser who exploited and raped me was a feminist progressive FAAB individual (female assigned at birth, no further clues will be given on their gender to protect myself). Others have been stalked and followed by women and FAAB devotees and chasers, the entire lesbian community has a serious endemic issue with their feminist progressive peers objectifying and treating awfully trans guys.

    It isn’t just cis men (and probably some trans men out there are devotees too) who do this. Cis women (and presumably some trans women) do too. Your peers do it to less of a degree then the menz do, that I’ll definitely give you, but there is still a problem going on among progressive womenfolk.

    Beyond that, unfortunately you’re still going to get hit with the backlash from the menz, even if none of your actual peers do this. So I would suggest fighting it still (even if just to follow the feminist ideal of preventing sexually criminal and creepy behavior) so that you are not tainted by their actions. We’ve got enough things to fight right now, it isn’t our job to clear the names of the people who are attracted to us.

    Of course I’d let you comment here. o_O I have absolutely no reason to ban you, nor can I speak for the folks at FWD or what’s going on there. *shrug* You’ve shown yourself to be ethical to me and that is enough for me.

  11. the entire lesbian community has a serious endemic issue with their feminist progressive peers objectifying and treating awfully trans guys.

    Okay, this goes against what several (Voz, Julia Serrano) have claimed, that the feminist community welcomes trans men while shunning trans women. (?) Is that generally true? (It certainly reflects what I have seen.)

  12. No, they’re still correct. That’s their view of what welcoming is. So we got tossed in the cold, kicked out of “safe” spaces or kept out of DV shelters and resources while trans guys get objectified and treated like sex toys.

    Shitty for everyone really. Go lesbian community, right? *sighs*

  13. Also, taking the attitude that “it’s just the menfolk” creates a really dangerous climate where potentially predatory women could use this as an excuse to avoid owning up to their behaviour.

    And yes, I will personally attest to the predatory nature of some trans women. I’ve been raped by two of them. In fact, I feel that it’s a special problem in our community.

  14. This is an excellent post! And I think you’re probably right about the name thing – I suppose for myself, the concept of “devotion” is a creepier than the concept of merely beings especially attracted to wheelchair-users, amputees or others.

    You’re spot on about attraction never being wrong. I think this is an idea that we struggle with a lot, because we’re all so heavily conditioned with the idea that attraction must be fulfilled. There’s not enough unrequited lust and love in our cultural narratives! Even most pop songs about unrequited love conclude that “One day I’ll make them mine!”

    So on the one hand, some folk (especially but not exclusively men) feel that it is terrible source of suffering if they don’t get to act on their attraction. And on the other hand, the objects of such attractions find the entire business far more uncomfortable than it really ought to feel (although that’s not their fault as you say). Sexual desire ought to be a pleasant thing for all involved, if only we handled it better…

  15. Don’t expect us to endanger ourselves cuz you’re nice. That means you aren’t so nice after all.

    Totally Agreed. People have their own hangups, and may not trust me for their own reasons, and I make it my business to try to respect said hangups. That said, they are, even if statistically or personally well founded, hangups. I’m a human being, and if you distrust me it’s not because of my inherent nature

    Handle your people, fix your group, clean house.

    You think everyone with a sexual proclivity goes to meetings and caucuses as to how they’re going to have everyone act in public? Seriously, all I ever can expect of anyone is to just not be an asshat, and to try to contest asshattery when it’s to be found. But no, I’m not going to hold someone culpable for the crimes of someone who resembles them. It’s not only profiling when you’re referring to a marginalized group.

  16. Predatory women often use that climate. It isn’t a could, it already happens quite regularly. And I wouldn’t say it’s a special problem in our community. It’s a special problem among all women, cis or trans.

    There are some women who believe that being a woman makes it impossible to rape. And that’s just fucked thinking.

  17. Exactly. Our culture is built around the pursuer getting what they want and the pursued gets no say. This goes beyond a basic rape culture or an individual sexual culture, but to the very fabric of our culture wherein we believe that if you are persistent you will always get what you want.

    Which is bullshit and the whole reason why capitalism doesn’t really work as good as we pretend it does.

  18. On Meetings: Not quite, no. What you said is exactly what I expect. Tell your friends not to be asshats and contest asshattery when you are near it. I’m not sure how you got profiling and holding folk accountable for the crimes of others in there.

    If you’re confused by where I said that we don’t trust devotees and chasers and won’t until the house is cleaned, well that goes back to the whole problem of people not wearing signs and us being very vulnerable. I can’t take the risk to assume a given person w/ one of those attractions is trustworthy. I have to take time to make sure they are.

    This is not holding them culpable for their peers anymore than not immediately trusting every cis straight man a girl meets due to safety is blaming them.

    There is a huge ridiculous difference between the two, and it’s dismaying when people equate them and by consequence strip us of our defenses to risk and danger from groups that do have serious predators hiding in them.

  19. 19 GallingGalla

    Wow, Daisy, thanks for the informative lecture. Of -course- I was only talking about amputees and trans folk.

    Read my comment again. I am making the same point you are. I am as sick and disgusted with “socially-acceptable” fetishizing (blond hair, thinness, etc) as I am of the fetishising of trans folk. It is the idea of reducing a person to a collection of disconnected parts that I am opposed to. (and if the the fetishizer and the target of said fetishization openly negotiated such, with the full knowledge and consent of the target, that is fine, too. But most fetishization happens without such consent.)

    Also, only males? I had to break off a friendship with a cis woman because she constantly fetishized me.

  20. 20 GallingGalla

    I think meloukhia says it well on the post you linked: “Which means that if you’re an amputee and you’re running in shorts and you pass a devotee, you are suddenly viewed as a sexual object, instead of a person running.” replace “amputee” with “trans woman”. The fact that someone is attracted to my breasts and penis to the exclusion of all else is inherently marginalizing to me. I cannot do anything about it if they just go home and sexually relieve themselves, nor would I try – I really don’t care about anyone’s private sexual fantasies. But as soon as they interact and try to come on to me, it is over. I am not a collection of body parts to be objectified.

  21. Pretty damn good article sis. I’m printing it out for my cis BFF to read.

    Thank you.. :-)

  22. I don’t think that someone only finding a given set of traits sexually attractive (which says nothing to how they view the person themselves) invariably means they will view you as simply those traits. It happens really often, yes. But being attracted to only a given set of traits sexually (and then attracted mentally or emotionally to the overall person) is a situation wherein that attraction type does not invariably lead to objectification.

    I keep on getting the feeling we’re talking about two different things here. o_O

    Are you saying that someone who, say using the example you’re using now, finds one who has a penis and breasts as sexually attractive (and only those traits are sexually attractive to them) but they appreciate that person’s mind, soul, emotions and connect to them, and love them for the person they are, they’re still objectifying that person because of the alignment of their sexual attractions only towards those traits?

    Or are you saying that folks viewing you as a sexual object, going from simply finding traits attractive to literally ignoring the rest of you for those traits, is the problem? Cuz the latter I agree with. The former I couldn’t disagree with more.

  23. You’re welcome.

  24. RP – totally loving this. Mind if I link to this and re-post your list on my blog in a few days? (No is always a good answer ;D )

  25. I never mind links from you. XD Link away and repost lists. Just make sure to credit anything written by me to me. <3

  26. it’s dismaying when people equate them

    And when people ban you from posting on their blogs because you fit into a certain category? What’s that? I am supposed to simply UNDERSTAND that I am not good enough and that I deserve banning because of what some other people have done? I see. (Where I come from, we call that STEREOTYPING.)

    On a more serious note: I just had a 22-year wedding anniversary. I am knowledgeable; I have things to share with the disability community. I am not stupid, I’ve been the block a few times. But it has already been decided that I couldn’t possibly have anything worthwhile to say.

    Okay. But frankly? People who think they already know everything cheat themselves.

  27. That’s dismaying too. You’ve more than proven yourself eight times over as ethical and good. You don’t objectify and you show this. I don’t know what justification they think they have but you shouldn’t be banned fitting that category (if that is the reason).

    And cutting you away for simply being in that category? Not the same as not automatically trusting folk. You know why I trust you? Because you took the time to talk it out. Because you discussed it, went over how you handle things. You did not walk up, go “hey, I’m a part of this group” and then expect me to open myself up to you. You were reasonable and you worked your way to trust. Too many people, not just devotees or admirers, too many people in general expect that because they know they’re good people I will automatically know this. Cis people can’t get it in their heads that their peers kill people like me and that until I get to know a cis person, I’m going to be cautious. And that’s just the general group. Would you automatically trust a guy you met on the street enough to let him into your house? Of course not.

    Stereotyping? Deciding you’re all objectifiers, definitely. Not automatically trusting you? No. Survival. Banning you for fitting that zone is unjustified. Not trusting you until you show you’re trustworthy (as you have) is entirely justified.

    But really, I don’t trust anyone until they’ve shown that they’re trustworthy. I should think that would be common sense.

    I get that you’re pissed. You have every right to be. And ranting and venting about possibly getting banned for your attractions is fine. It’s certainly relevant to the topic (as I did discuss judgments made on attractions that were not reasonable). Just don’t equate a healthy dose of mistrust (that is solved by trustworthy behavior) with what happened there. Okay? Because that is unreasonable and that endangers us.

  28. 28 M&M

    I must say, I really like your blog! I’m following it now. I’m really interested in the things you have to say. I myself am quite interested in alternative views of gender that don’t necessarily take the traditional binary view of gender as a given.
    I think sexuality is just such a complex topic. I’ve even realized for me how complicated it can be, being a cis female attracted to feminine people, who are, of course, predominately female, but don’t have to be, and don’t even have to be people who fit in the sex binary or gender binary, so long as they are feminine.

    “So too does this apply to chasers and attraction to trans women (and the lesbian community’s fetish for trans men and possibly even FAAB nonbinaries).”

    Hm, I find this interesting, because, as I said, I am attracted to anyone feminine) so I never even considered liking trans men. To me, they hold no attraction whatsoever. I do find myself attracted to trans women though. I don’t like them in a particular way moreso than ciswomen, like a fetish or something, I just like them along with ciswomen, I don’t rule them out because they were not born biologically female. I don’t know what it would make my sexuality, but I finally figured out that most of my sexual attraction is based on secondary sex characteristics and gender expression, and very little on primary sex characteristics. I am very attracted to breasts, high voices, long hair, etc., and people who act feminine (not necessarily female, but act feminine [people acting masculine is a major turnoff for me!]) and I am turned off by muscles and body/facial hair, etc. But when it comes to what’s below the belt, I have no preference whatsoever. So in that way, most trans men would hold no interest for me, as it would seem that most, well, want to be masculine. Even if they had female parts still, that does nothing for me whatsoever if they have a masculine personality. For example, I’m more likely to be attracted to a very feminine man than I am a butch lesbian.

    But on the same token, my attraction to trans women is not exclusively BECAUSE they’re trans women. I don’t care if they still have a penis, or a vagina, or if they have a penis and later while I know them get a vagina… whatever. But if they have the female secondary sex characteristics and a feminine personality, I will find them just as attractive as any other female.

    I didn’t start to understand just how important femininity is to me until I started to fall for my friend, who is intersex. She (we call her ‘she’ for convenience) is extremely feminine in personality, but I’m not exactly sure what’s going on underneath the belt. I know she is XXY and identifies as intersex (not male or female) and is more androgenous than most females, but she does have breasts and has very little body hair and her personality is very girly, so I like her. I don’t care whether or not she’s intersex, I don’t care what genitalia she has, but she’s feminine and I like HER.

    So maybe I’m weird. I just like femininity and don’t care who it’s from. I guess… I AM pansexual. Sexuality sure is complicated when you really get into it, huh? Especially since meeting my intersex friend, I have become dissatisfied with sexual orientation labels. I don’t want to call myself a lesbian (well, with all I described above, maybe I couldn’t anyway), because that implies the fact that I like the SAME sex is more important than that I like FEMALES. And wahat about people like my intersex friend? If she’s neither male nor female, how would she even talk about her sexual orientation? It’s like she’s erased from the categorization entirely… and I don’t like it. I’m sick of people only acknowledging that there are two genders, and saying that sex is the same as gender, or even that there are only two sexes. I’m sick of the world erasing people like my friend just because she doesn’t fit into the dichotomy. And I really like your blog. Thanks for writing it! I’ll be reading! =)

  29. If you wanna explore more into the concept of binarist and cissexist sexuality terminology in use right now, I have a post that goes into that: Right here

    Is your friend, the one who is intersex, okay with being called “her”? Because that’s really important, that you respect your friend’s pronoun needs.

  30. 30 M&M

    Well I think she is… I went off of what all her friends around her were calling her. Actually, when I first met her, I couldn’t figure out if she was a girl or a boy (because it hadn’t quite occurred to me that you could be neither) and then I got to know her, being very cautious never to say ‘he’ or ‘she’ around her because I didn’t want to guess her gender wrong and offend her… but then I heard one of her friends (while she herself was present) refer to her as ‘she,’ so I concluded she must be a girl, until I got to know her better, and she told me she was intersex. Actually, I think she’s XXY (so that is Klinefelter’s or something, right?) but I’m not sure if that’s the only thing she has. She did tell me her body produces equal amounts of estrogen and testosterone, and because of this, she can’t eat meat, since most non-free range meat is injected with horomones, which messes with her system. She said she gets estrogen injections twice a month to make her appear more feminine, because she prefers her feminine persona,
    But basically I just started using ‘she’ because all her friends around her referred to her that way. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to ask though, because I’d obviously have no problem calling her by another pronoun. Really, I want what makes her comfortable. One interesting thing I did notice is that when talking about her to myself (I have conversations with myself a lot lol) I sometimes refer to her as ‘he’ as well, and it feels perfectly natural. It feels equally natural to refer to her as ‘she.’ What an interesting concept to feel genuinely comfortable thinking of someone as both ‘he’ and ‘she.’ Of course, she’s really neither, but I’m still working on wrapping my mind around that concept. It’s not easy to break years of social conditioning all at once and see people beyond the binary. But I’m really glad I got to know her; she’s made me start to think about the world and gender in ways I’d never even considered before, and she’s an awesome person to boot!

  31. I would ask your friend if I were you, next chance you get. It costs you nothing and will help spare her from hurt from you, if you’re using the wrong pronouns.

  32. 32 M&M

    Thanks for the tip. That never even would have occurred to me, since all her friends were using ‘she.’ I’ll ask her next time I see her. I do know some people just consider her a girl and are done with it (because it’s simpler) and that’s a shame since she self-identifies as intersex, but I think she’s okay with that because some people just aren’t gonna get that concept. But if you ever called her a man I think she’d be livid. She seems to have hard enough feelings that her father refuses to see her as anything but ‘his son.’ =( I know I’D be livid if someone called me a man!
    And thank you for your other article; I skimmed it and will read it in-depth when I have time; it seemed interesting.

  33. 33 Sarah

    great article!


  1. 1 What We Mean By Rape Culture

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