and by 'for social justice reasons' you really mean

Here’s one reason I don’t spend much time on tumblr at the moment. I’m going to be blunt, and quite honestly hateful towards at least some of my followers (who can go ahead and unfollow if they feel uncomfortable or w/e). 

The term problematic is a shitty measuring stick. It shouldn’t ever be used as though the term is self-evident and conclusive. 

What do you even mean by problematic? And are you talking for a group (or an entire culture) to which you don’t fucking belong? Do you really think that “problematic” is where it ends, no discussion? 

Listen, 1 + 1 doesn’t equal 2 here. When you’re talking about society, people, basically structures that rely on subjectivity, you sound naive and lost when you say something like, “Liking [___] promotes/excuses/normalizes [___].” How the fuck. Have you ever learned about audience reception? Cause textual analysis doesn’t fucking cut it.

You can pretend that you like or do not like things based on the morality/problematics you perceive in them, but every single person I’ve known who did this would twist themselves in knots to write off their own hypocrisy. 

Hey, I don’t care, I’m gonna say it: in fiction, I like noncon, dubcon, some level of guro/abuse, manipulation, abusive relationships, incest, and some other things that probably would earn me one of those ridiculous callout posts. Someone once told me they felt weird seeing me have opinions about fic plots because they knew I like noncon. Apparently liking noncon bans you from having opinions, ever, or at least expecting anyone to treat you as anything more than a Bad Person who has to be Silenced.

It’s not like I don’t know they’re problematic; I fucking like them because they are. That doesn’t mean I’m not critically engaging at all. I honestly think that I probably engage more critically than the majority of the high-horse, pure-as-crystal people who like to throw shit without reflecting. There’s so little [room for] thought with that mentality. 

Hey, let’s talk about how ending it at “this is problematic and bad, and so are you,” is intellectually pathetic. I’m personally interested in thinking about why something is problematic, why it appeals to people, and how they interact with it. And of course, enjoying it in spaces that don’t involve perpetrators of those things. Liking it doesn’t mean excusing it in real life.

Cause, y’know, 1 + 1 can’t equal 2 when the equation is being applied carelessly and to something it doesn’t fit.

Abusing entire groups of people for a ship, show, whatever they like that’s problematic, especially when they keep to themselves and are not denying the problematic aspects as what they are, is so much more vicious and unforgivable to me. When I try to figure out why they bother, it always comes down to the harasser wanting to fucking harass people and dressing that desire in terms that do not justify their actions in the least. 

The act of liking and enjoying the ~wrong~ fictional thing doesn’t justify that vitriol. But some people hate fun, I guess. They’d rather delude themselves. Go ahead, but leave others the hell out of it.

Edit: There was something I saw on tumblr once that stuck with me in a good way. It ended with the sentence, “You gotta be kind.” That’s what I think of when I want to approach lots of these issues. It’s not all-or-nothing, and that’s a positive thing.

my body is not a public institution

So lately I’ve been seeing a few posts that go like this:

[W]hile everyone, including sex workers, can decline to fuck whomever they do not wish to fuck for any reason whatsoever, that does not magically render those reasons unexaminable or uncritizeable. If you don’t want to fuck people because they’re not white, you’re a gross bigot and you’re not welcome here.

The fact that your no is sacrosanct doesn’t mean it’s not racist. And disgusting.

Or this:

If you have never seen a black woman that you find attractive

You are either racist

Or blind there is no other option

commanderfraya wrote an excellent, comprehensive post about the ways in which abusers couch their manipulation in social justice rhetoric, and I think I’ve found another permutation: “if you really cared about my liberation, you’d fuck me.”

You know, I understand that impulse. I really do. Desexualization sucks. I’ve written about it before, particularly about the ways in which it affects the disabled and the socially awkward. (And those are far from the only groups affected: see also fat people, trans people, certain ethnicities, etc.) It’s awful when an entire media system portrays attraction to you and people like you as something inherently absurd. It’s doubly awful when those around you ape those perspectives in ways they might not even realize are hurtful. I get it. I do.

But the proper battleground for that is society writ large, not individual bedrooms. Support media with sexually empowered trans and poc and disabled characters. Call people out when they deride a whole group of people as unequivocally unattractive. Don’t stand for dehumanization. But shaming and yelling at individuals, telling them they’re all sorts of -ist if their personal attractions don’t line up with your recipe for an idea society, isn’t activism. It isn’t speaking truth to power. It’s inserting yourself, a stranger on the internet, into another person’s desires and demanding they justify them to you.

Attaching passive-aggressive, guilt-tripping conditions to someone’s “no” seems like the opposite of holding it sacrosanct. It might feel more righteous, but “you can say no - just know that you’re a racist” isn’t any better than “you can say no - just know that you’re a frigid bitch”. This holds especially true in social justice circles, where being seen as any variation of -ist or -phobic is something to be avoided scrupulously. If your social standing is contingent on not being racist or transphobic, and not being racist or transphobic is contingent on your sexual availability, how is that anything but coercive?

I can support someone and advocate for their rights without having to find them sexually attractive. Attraction is so weird, squidgy, personal. It shouldn’t be taken as evidence of your beliefs in other contexts. Wanting to be tied up in the bedroom doesn’t mean I think women ought to be subservient, and not finding certain skin colors or features attractive does NOT mean I deny the humanity and equality of people with those attributes.

This isn’t even about me. I personally find men of all races attractive, but that isn’t the point. The point is that demanding sexual availability in the guise of activism is intrusive and - dare I say? - abusive. I have seen a woman reduced to tears, piledriven and harassed, because she admitted to being triggered by men of a certain ethnic group after being assaulted by one such man. If you are so caught up in some abstract notion of equality that you cannot see the wrong in demanding that a rape victim be more sexually available, then I’m not sure I can help you.

I will fight tooth and nail for anyone’s rights and access to public institutions. But my body is not a public institution.