Dear white, cis feminists
TW: racism, transphobia, mentions of racist and transphobic violence and threats against woc and trans women. If I forgot anything tell me and I’ll fix it ASAP
After the stuff that went down/is still happening wrt Laci Green I’ve been thinking a lot about why I’ve often felt so uncomfortable in ‘sex positive’ spaces. I realized that I’ve wanted to write this letter for a while. Yes, I know y’all aren’t one big homogeneous groups and you have different ideals and values and ways of doing social justice. Coolbeans. But, as you know, in general you are socialized in a lot of the same ways. So things that are obvious to women of colour and trans women and trans women of colour might be lost on you no matter how much you educate yourself. Sometimes you might have been doing pretty good for months or even years, but that doesn’t mean that you now totally Get It™. This post might seem simplistic, repetitive or even a little patronizing. I don’t want to talk down to anyone but I’d rather be redundant then unclear.
I’m going to specifically use examples that relate to race and culture because for all intents and purposes according to society I’m a cis woman and haven’t experienced the things trans women have.
First, death threats are bad. I’ve seen no one say that Laci deserved those threats or people condoning them in any way. Partly because trans women and woc know how really, really bad death threats are since we’re routinely in situations where we fear for our lives. I’m not going to cite stat after stat about how many of our sisters are killed or missing. It hurts my heart and honestly I don’t want to deal with that pain right now. But you should know this. If you don’t Google that shit right now.
Those threats that Laci got. Those are also usually thrown at us on Tumblr. There hasn’t been a week that’s gone by without someone on my dash mentioning a new threat they’ve gotten or Tumblr’s complete lack of response. This is a known fact about the interactions that woc and trans women have online and, frankly, none of y’all ever talked about it. Not even when you were directly confronted with it. This debacle has shown me yet again that our lives aren’t worthy of the same outrage and protection as a pretty white cis girl.
There are myriad of reasons why we’re subject to violence and abuse, both within our communities and without and why no one outside our communities gives a fuck. A lot of them tie into how our sexualities are viewed and the kind of sexual beings we’re seen as. This is never part of conversations in sex positive communities which I’ve usually found to be predominantly white. At least none that I’ve seen (and I’ve been around, let me tell you internets). Woc and trans women are generally talked about as desirable and the fucked up ideas about us as sexual beings are discussed but never how we ourselves learn to navigate our sexualities in the context of those ideas.
These conversations do happen, but they happen in our own communities and among ourselves. How we frame sex and sexuality and desire and love are all done in these varying contexts of sharing and unlearning and teaching. My own sexuality is shaped by the cultural, religious and racial context of my life. But I can’t talk about it in those terms with white women because I have to fit a sex positive approved way of being a sexual being and that ends up being a square peg in a round hole. While the way you talk about sex and desire might be empowering for you for us it’s the exact opposite. It excludes us and, yes, it is oppressive.
And sometimes I don’t want to talk about sex sometimes because I’m sexualized enough by society. This doesn’t mean women shouldn’t talk about sexuality and desire in an open, honest way. This doesn’t happen enough. But the assumption is that when we choose to express (or not express) our desires because of our cultural or religious context we’re oppressed or repressed. That really needs to stop.
Laci refused to acknowledge that when people called her out on her Islamophobia. I’m truly sorry that she’s been hurt in the past by relatives who are Muslim and by Islam. But like how y’all don’t want us to paint you with the same brush, she condemned all Muslims as being that ‘special’ kind of sexist that only poc apparently know how to do. There is no oppression Olympics with religion. There have been disgusting, horrifically misogynistic things done in the name of all faiths. There are disgusting, horrifically misogynistic things in holy books and religious practises. This should be and is discussed within those faiths.
But there are also countless people who’ve found solace and strength in their faith too. Ignoring that belittles the struggles of so many woc and trans women. For me as a strange mix of agnostic and Hindu I can’t just separate religion from my life. It’s weaved into my culture, my habits. I don’t want to give up the faith that taught me to look to my Mothers Durga, Kali, Parvati and Saraswati for strength and guidance.
When talking specifically about Islam you can’t ignore how much racism informs Islamophobia. You can’t ignore the violence and abuse Muslim women face during invasion and war all in the name of freeing them. If you claim to understand that we all have different experiences, different values and that lives are nuanced and diverse and completely ordinary you have to accept that as destructive as religion can be for some for others it means salvation. When talking about religion there has to be an understanding that for many poc (sometimes as a result of the violence and abuse faced during abduction, slavery and colonialism) religion is an intrinsic part of our lives. Laci and anyone else is free to talk about their own experiences with faith however they like. I don’t begrudge or condemn them their anger, their hurt, their sadness or how they choose to express it. I hope that through that expression they can heal and find peace. But the second you make blanket statements this doesn’t become a conversation about the dangers of religion. It becomes an insult and it doesn’t help anyone.
Finally, all of this. It’s not people who are afraid of sex and our sexualities. It’s not people who can’t handle the truth (whatever that singular truth apparently is) about how sexuality and desire work. It’s about our voices always being silenced and ignored and us being called bullies the second someone sheds white women tears. (This is a good link that might help you understand why we’re fed up with this reaction. TW: photo of a lynching)
So many people said during this mess they wanted to have a conversation, actually talk instead of insulting each other. So, here, let’s have a conversation. But it has to be one where we as women of colour, as trans women have our voices and experiences respected. Where it’s understood that these conversations can be so infuriating and painful because for us violence and abuse and threats of it are part of everyday life. We need you to just shut up and listen for a little bit. In this conversation your voices are the privileged ones. If you can’t acknowledge that and respect us this’ll always be us exchanging insults and exhausting our gif folders for the right disapproving look.
This might seem out of the blue, but can you reveal any info you know on lana's ex's like J, Bill and K , maybe no K because his references are more obvious than the other ones. I just wanna understand the songs more etc.. sorry if this is annoying you don't have to!
nah boo me and Jake were developing/uncovering this whole sort of backstory from which Lana draws inspiration.
J is really prevalent, basically every song she says a name beginning with J she’s referencing J (Jay-Z, Jared Leto, Jim Morrison, Jimmy Gnecco etc) - he’s the older man in Ride in the who’s on the balcony of a motel with Lana while she leans over the railings etc. He’s also the man who likes the little girls, he has a drug addiction from what I can tell, he cornered Lana into selling herself (idk whether that’s through prositution (but that’s HEAVILY supposed in Last Girl On Earth and the Ride video) but almost definitely stripping (Go Go Dancer)). He and Lana had a more passionate, dangerous relationship rather than one based on actual love. His songs are focused around heavily around sex, hedonism and materialism and generally reference older men, (Classic J songs are Hundred Dollar Bill, Paris, Boarding School, Last Girl on Earth and National Anthem).
Bill is an older man too, nearing his 40s, he is married and depressed, most of what you can find out about Bill comes from songs from Sirens - specifically Next To Me is VERY telling about how their relationship formed. As far as I can tell it happened just before she and J split or very soon after. She meets him as a stripper/sex worker and talks to him rather than seduces him and falls in love with his vulnerability. He’s worried about his wife finding out, but his depression sort of blinds him into letting Lana string him on (remember at this point Lana’s pretty screwed up). Eventually in Pawn Shop Blues we hear about how she lets “the best man she knew go” (Bill) to know what God knows (where K - her first true love - is). (Classic Bill songs are Go Go Dancer, Pawn Shop Blues, Next To Me, Kinda Outta Luck and Trash Magic (Miss America)).
And I know you say you know a lot about K already, which is fair he’s the most prominent in all of her songs, but just to clear things up, he “went away” (idk whether he died or was imprisoned) for double homocide (see: For K Part 1 and Kill Kill (why do you think it’s called kill kill? two kills - double homicide etc). He grew up on punk rock and was the dirty heavy metal king, his songs often reference celestial bodies (stars, planets, heaven etc) reflecting that god knows where he is and Lana doesn’t. (Classic K songs are Never Let Me Go, the For K trilogy (Dark Paradise as part 3), Smarty, the BTD trilogy (BTD, VG, BJ), Kill Kill, and Oh Say Can You See).
There are a few other recurring “characters” in her songs like Ray (K’s best friend who Lana sleeps with (see Kill Kill and Never Let Me Go and Money Hunny) and this police officer but idk whether he’s just a fictious character or based on someone real. Obviously it’s all fan speculation but Lana is adamant that her music is based on real events so this is how I see what actually happened between the lines.
1 ; pack your bags & spread your wings
1 YEAR LATER ; RUBY’S POV.
“Do we have to go home? I mean, it’s not like England needs us…” Zoe groaned; her head lolling as she lounged in the sun. It was the summer holidays, and we’d all decided we needed a trip, especially I; if it was my decision? We would never even make it home, but I doubted Jaz could last another week and Megan was sick of having to cook for us all the time, Aaron missed being able to skate for hours and not sweat like a pig, Jeremy was at breaking point. So, due to popular demand, I was currently stood in mine and Zoe’s room, packing while she sat on the balcony and lapped up the Spanish sun.
“Unfortunately, yes, but you know what they say about good things…” I sighed.
“They must all come to an end? How philosophical, Ruby.” She laughed, sipping more of her lemonade (she was on a strict ‘no more cocktails’ diet) and grabbing her mobile. I just let out another long sigh, folding the remainder of my clothes and watching as a silver bracelet fell from the pocket of one of my jeans…
I recognised it immediately. Those weren’t my jeans and that wasn’t my bracelet.
“Jaz!” I yelled, I felt bad, having to bring her in here under these circumstances, but I couldn’t just keep the bracelet, she had to do something about it whether or not she wanted to. At first, I was apprehensive, she hadn’t been herself the whole trip and I was sure something like this would push her over the edge; but yet she surprised me once again.
“Hm?” Her head poked round the door as I held up the bracelet, her eyes widening, her lips forming a hard line. She paused, for a few seconds, and then she smiled. “Throw it over the balcony.” I was taken aback, to say the least, even more so when she left the room without another word. She wanted me to —Throw it over the balcony? The bracelet in question was the one that Harry had given her, it seemed light years ago now, but it had happened. She had been in love with this boy, she had shared everything with him, the bracelet was a token of that, but that was Jaz.
When she ended it with someone, she didn’t leave loose ends.
Their split happened a few months ago, roughly six months, when One Direction truly got back into the music industry. It was rocky, to say the least, with all of us… But they were really struggling. It had upset us all, none of us stayed together except Zoe and Niall, but Harry and Jaz didn’t speak. They were not spoken about in each other’s presence, they would not look at pictures of each other, Jaz refused to even listen to their music; it had all gone terribly wrong in the worst ways.
I turned to Zoe who was already looking at me, slightly bewildered she shook her head. “There’s nothing we can do, they’re better off without each other if you ask me.”
“What? I’m just saying what everyone else is thinking, truthfully? Neither of them were mature enough to handle a relationship, they both like fucking about too much, they need to understand what they’ve been looking for has been right in front of their eyes the whole time.” And she called me philosophical.
“But there’s just one thing in the way, right?” She didn’t say a word, but we both knew what name should have been uttered in that silence. “Finish packing.” I mumbled and she stood silently, walking to her suitcase and placing the remainder of her things within the container. I felt terrible, talking about her behind her back, but it all just… Slipped out. I was supposed to be her best friend; I was supposed to protect her from bitchy girls and backstabbers, so why was I becoming one? Briefly, I pinched the bridge of my nose before zipping my suitcase shut and taking a deep breath; now wasn’t the time for worrying.
I would miss the Spanish sun, I would miss how it melted away all my worries, I would miss the late nights and early mornings, but I would miss its simplicity even more after the next few, drastic events.
A knock on the door started it off, like a chain reaction, Aaron stepped in with a smile. “Roo, there’s a beach party tonight, feel like going before we leave?” Zoe wasn’t interested, she was trying to pack her bags without tripping over the shoes still littered across the floor of my parents’ beach house, so I answered for her.
“I don’t know maybe we should just stay in until 5? When our flight leaves?” He scoffed and his lips parted to protest but the sound of screaming cut me off, I blinked three times, as if that would help me hear what was happening. But it didn’t and I only became more confuse as the seconds ticked on and the screaming shifted into yelling.
I didn’t move until I heard the smash.
Me, Aaron and Zoe couldn’t have moved any faster, the corridors of the beach house blurred as we moved from room to room, looking for the source of the noise, hammering down the stairs and stopping in our tracks as we witnessed the scene unfolding in the kitchen.
“You’re supposed to be my fucking brother! You don’t do shit like this to me!” The source of the smash was lying in pieces against the far wall, a vase my Mum had bought at some Spanish flea market, nothing irreplaceable. I stared at Jaz, unable to say anything, instead letting Aaron lunge forward and grab her arms.
“What the hell did you do?!” Zoe yelled as Megan came running down the stairs.
“What the- Ooooh.” A hand flew to her mouth as she took in the scene, Jaz briefly escaping from Aaron’s grasp and throwing a plate at Jeremy, he ducked seconds before it hit the cabinet he had been stood in front of and the sound of swears echoed around the kitchen.
“Jaz! Please! You need to- Shit!” Another plate whizzed past his head just as Aaron grabbed Jaz’s arms once again, my face draining of all colour, Mum really liked that plate goddamit. “I did it for you!”
“Don’t. You. DARE.” She spat, finally slumping to the floor and taking a few deep breaths, Aaron didn’t let go of her wrists though, making sure she didn’t go psycho bitch- I mean, well… I meant psycho bitch. Zoe kneeled down and rubbed her back, waiting for her to compose herself, looking up at me for an answer. Jeremy was clutching at his t-shirt, practically wetting himself with fear.
“So? You wanna tell me what you’ve done?” He bit his lip.
“Okay, a few things: a) It’s not my fault, b) I still love you guys, and c) Please don’t hate me.” My eyes widened, Megan furrowed her brow, and Zoe stopped rubbing Jaz’s back and stood up straight. “I forgot to tell you something.” We stared at him, for what seemed like… Centuries, and finally, he spoke. “Faye texted me, her brothers football team just drafted in a new striker-“ I rolled my eyes, ready to open my mouth and let words like ‘stop being stupid’ and ‘over exaggeration’ roll off my tongue, but what he said next stopped me. It chilled me to the bone. “It’s Louis, Tomlinson. They bought a house together and… It’s on our street. They’re coming back to sixth form, Ruby.” I choked.
“But why… Why is Jaz throwing plates at you?”
“I’ll tell you why I’m throwing plates at the little rat bag.” Jaz stood, dusting off her shorts and shooting Jeremy a look that could cut through steel. “He invited Harry to stay in our guest room.” And that was it, Jaz’s face crumpled as she ran off, her feet pounding against the floor boards above our heads, but I was stuck, somewhere between realities and… Nightmares.
I felt Megan hug me but it was useless. Those boys had come into my life and turn it upside down, and now they were back. I crossed my fingers.
I was begging that worked when it came to love, I didn’t want to fall again.
I don't think enough people understand this
It’s okay to dislike someone who is a different gender to you.
It’s not okay to dislike someone because they are a different gender to you.
It’s okay to dislike someone who is a different race to you.
It’s not okay to dislike someone because they are a different race to you.
It’s okay to dislike someone who is a different sexuality to you.
It’s not okay to dislike someone because they are a different sexuality to you.
It’s okay to dislike someone who is a different religion to you.
It’s not okay to dislike someone because they are a different religion to you.
It’s okay to dislike someone who is a different from you.
It’s not okay to dislike someone because they are a different from you.