body-autonomy

6

This is the shit that I’m talking about black girls/women aren’t allowed to do SHIT without being called ghetto and ratchet. These are only a few comments and though some are positive the majority are overwhelmingly negative. The lack of body autonomy is ridiculous when a black girl/woman step out and does something cute but edgy it’s ghetto and ratchet, but on any other women it’s a green light.

quietlyexhale
melanin-matriarchy

We let Willow cut her hair. When you have a little girl, it’s like how can you teach her that you’re in control of her body? If I teach her that I’m in charge of whether or not she can touch her hair, she’s going to replace me with some other man when she goes out in the world. She can’t cut my hair but that’s her hair. She has got to have command of her body. So when she goes out into the world, she’s going out with a command that is hers. She is used to making those decisions herself. We try to keep giving them those decisions until they can hold the full weight of their lives.
—  Will Smith in Parade Magazine on Willow’s hair
Are there really dudes out there who are so grossed out by female body hair that they threaten "no d december"?

Like, for real? This isn’t some elaborate internet hoax?  Oy…

Listen up dudes. I know this may shock you but, women have body hair too. Hair under their arms, hair on their legs, hair on their “ladyparts” (aka the mons pubis and labia majora). It’s called androgenic hair and it comes in during puberty. It’s a marker of sexual maturity.

Anyone who complains about hairy ladies has obviously never been in a long term relationship. Every girlfriend I’ve ever had has skipped shaving for periods of time, especially during the winter. And you know what? I don’t act like an asshole about it. I’m not saying this to get a medal or anything, but the way I feel is that if I think it’s a pain in the ass to shave my face (and that is pretty much the only reason I do have a beard), then I can understand why my partner might not want to have to go to the trouble to make sure her entire body is completely hairless because that’s what western society has said she should aspire to.

And I personally guarantee every boyfriend/husband/whatever out there will say the same thing (unless he’s a complete asshole). Female body hair is natural. It’s not a big deal. Even if your personal preference is for a completely hairless Barbie-doll, you accept your partner’s body as it is because it is her body, not yours. You can share your preferences and she can share hers (you know, maybe your stubbly neckbeard isn’t the most pleasant thing to cuddle next to, either), but ultimately it’s the person who lives in the body who gets to make those decisions.

So stop fetishizing the hairless, pre-pubescent virgin girl as the only acceptable female body. It’s actually kind of weird, when you think about it. Now, I’m not saying that women who choose to shave and like to present themselves as the typical western feminine ideal aren’t attractive. Far from it, actually… I love that look. I just recognize that there is a lot more variety out there that is equally stunning in its own way… and it’s certainly not some man’s place to dictate what a woman should or shouldn’t do with her body.

A Small, Important Lesson About Consent

One of my kindergarten boys kept hugging another boy in class. The hugger was smiling big time, and just trying to show the other boy that he cared for him. The huggee was noticeably uncomfortable at times. 

Me: John*, I don’t think Sam* wants you to keep hugging him.

John: Why?

Me: Well, he isn’t smiling while you hug him. *John looks at Sam and back to me, inquisitively* Do you like to blow bubbles, John?

John: I love to!

Me: So do I. As people, we have a type of bubble around us, but it’s not a bubble we can see. We let some people that we really love come into our bubble, but we keep some people out of it. When you just hug someone without them saying it’s ok, you’re popping their bubble, which isn’t a very nice thing to do. 

Sam: I have a bubble?

Me: Yep! And, if someone gets too close to you, or touches you when you don’t want them to, you can just tell them “you’re in my bubble”, and they’ll know to back away. *turning to John* If someone tells you to stay out of their bubble, you have to listen.

John: Or I’ll pop it?

Me: You got it.

Later, I saw John hugging Sam again, and I went over to say something. John looked at me and said, “He said I could be in his bubble, now!” and Sam just nodded with a big smile.

I want to thank my friend JJ for giving me the courage to teach complex ideas to children. I don’t know if this lesson will last, but it’s one we can continue to talk about.

3

Translated by me and Monica Odom 

[image text] Giovana has been very criticized for having a lot of plastic surgeries that changed her face.
Giovana, your features you decide to change or keep are your decision. Your surgeries are not an invitation for people to come and tell you what you should or shouldn’t do with your body.

[texto da imagem] Giovana já foi muito criticada por ter feito várias cirurgias plásticas que modificaram seu rosto. 
Giovana, o que você decide mudar ou manter em você mesma é decisão sua. Suas plásticas não são um convite para que os outros te digam o que você deve ou não fazer com o seu corpo.

Traducido por Rosario Esperanza y Rubén Galindo

[texto de la image] Giovana ha sido muy criticada por haberse hecho muchas cirugías plásticas que cambiaron su rostro.
Giovana, lo que tu decidas cambiar o mantener de ti misma es decisión tuya. Tus cirugías no son una invitación para que otros te digan lo que tienes o no que hacer con tu cuerpo.

The difference is choice. Meg CHOOSES to love her body and to dress ‘provocatively’, and she can choose to dress however she pleases and share whatever photos she pleases with us. She (and Gavin) did NOT choose to share that particular photo with us, which is why it’s a breach of privacy. This is what body positivity is all about - your choices about your clothing and your body DOES NOT revoke your right to privacy, body autonomy or choices.

Intersex Awareness Day

While really an Australian concept, it’s a good one, so I’m borrowing it! The OII has dedicated the 26th of October to be Intersex Awareness Day.

[Correction: It has been brought to my attention that this incorrect, and it is not Australian in origin. I have mostly seen it publicised by the OII-AU, and assumed this wrongly.]
[Correction to correction: I have also been informed that the previous correction’s link to Wikipedia may not be entirely accurate, and have removed it. In short, I have no idea where it came from or when, but it’s here and I’m rolling with it! :P]

Notes on this post: These are my personal opinions and views, and not those of any particular organisation or group. Despite these being my personal views, I have also done my best to write them with a level of emotional detachment, as well. Some of this content may be triggering, although I have done my best to only brush over these topics in a detached way.

So what does intersex mean to me? In short, it means I was not born physiologically, biologically or by any other definition a boy or a girl. I was raised as one, but I was not born one. There a variety of “conditions”* that lead to a person being intersex - this can be ambiguous genitals, certain (and specific) hormonal differences or atypical chromosomal differences. Like most things, not everyone is affected the same way, and trying to apply a specific set of standards to everyone is not recommended.

What being intersex is not, however, is a gender identity. Intersex people identify as any number of gender identities, and some may identify as trans as well. Some people may luck out, and identify with the gender they were assigned, while others may not, and may undertake some form of transition to express the gender they actually identify as. It is also not a sexual orientation; intersex people will identify all across the sexuality spectrum. Intersex is not an identity that can be transitioned to; a nonbinary person that transitions, even through surgical means, is not intersex.

If you are transitioning as an intersex person, it can certainly create some questions. Using myself as an example, if I identify as nonbinary, and was born intersex, but assigned male, and I am transitioning to my nonbinary identity through medical and other means, does that make me cisgender, since my gender identity matches my physiological sex? Or am I transgender, since I was assigned and raised male? Ultimately, these questions are to be answered by each person individually, there is no universal answer to this question.

There is some debate in the intersex community on a handful of issues, including the aforementioned one.

  • * Some people feel that being intersex is certain medical disorders, while others feel that being intersex is not in itself a disorder, but rather comes from having one of a number of other disorders. In some cases, these disorders are referred to as DSDs or disorders of sexual development. Yet others feel that these are all natural variations on what we consider to be “normal” and should not be classed as disorders. Many of the large intersex activist organisations choose to represent the latter, and personally, I’m inclined to agree.
  • A lot of the larger intersex organisations also feel that intersex issues are not a feminist issue, are not a part of LGBTQIA+/MOGII issues, and are not transgender issues. While, strictly speaking, this is true, there is a lot of overlap between these issues, and accepting this, and working together on these issues, can only benefit everyone. For example, gaining legal recognition of either nonbinary genders or intersex people would, in theory, have a knock-on effect that allows for better campaigning for the other. The issues surrounding forcible (surgical) assignment of sex in intersex children certainly is in tune with the feminist body autonomy, and especially genital autonomy issues - such as male and female circumcision. I personally think it’s important to recognise these overlaps, and use them to not only help people in other communities with similar issues, but also allow them to help us.
  • There is a lot of debate as to whether binary non-surgical assignment of sex to intersex children is beneficial or not. Some people feel that assigning a child to a binary sex is necessary for them to be accepted and grow up socially happy, while others feel that it causes a lot of issues with gender identity later in life that are exacerbated by the discovery that you were assigned to that despite the fact that you were confirmably not. Again, personally, I feel that the latter is certainly true for me.
  • There are others that I’ve probably neglected or forgotten to mention, or am simply unaware of.

However, while these issues can be divisive within the community, it’s no different from the issues that divide any other community that’s fighting for recognition. It’s very similar to the kinds of things you hear debated in the dyadic (non-intersex-affected) trans community, the asexual community, the nonbinary gender community and numerous others.


(The intersex flag - there are a few variations, and many with problems. See this post.)

One thing that is almost universally agreed on, though, is that surgical sex assignment of children needs to stop, where there is no medical indicator of necessity. Unfortunately, the attitude of the medical community at present is very strongly in favour of “normalisation”, and this is often done surreptitiously. There are times when this is done without the parents’ consent or knowledge, and no medical records are created; in these cases, it’s often done alongside another medical procedures that have been consented to. It’s generally agreed that this practice is a very important one to stop, and that intersex people should have the right to consent and have input into their medical care and support, which should be individual-focused.

What’s very important for intersex people is that our dyadic allies in other communities remember to include us - we’re often left out and forgotten about. But that doesn’t mean you should speak over us, either - we’re totally capable of speaking for ourselves, so don’t do that.

If you want to be a good intersex ally, or just learn more, please consider checking out some of these links. Bear in mind that I, and other intersex people, may not agree with all information put out by these organisations, but they have some pretty good resources, so as you read them, try to remember the part of this post where I talk about disagreement within the community!

[weightloss shaming]

Reminder: 

Women are not bad feminists for wanting to lose weight.

WOMEN ARE NOT BAD FEMINISTS FOR WANTING TO LOSE WEIGHT.

not all women want to lose weight to meet societal conditioning.

not all women want to lose weight to please men.

not all women want to lose weight to compete with each other.

not all women who want to lose weight buy into fat shaming.

not all women who want to lose weight judge other peoples’ bodies.

not all women who want to lose weight hate themselves.

not all women who want to lose weight embrace the term fat.  

some do.  some don’t.

If she asks, “could you please not call me fat?” DON’T FUCKING CALL HER FAT.

Reclaimed words cease to be empowering if you thrust them upon women against their will. 

RECLAIMED WORDS CEASE TO BE EMPOWERING IF YOU THRUST THEM UPON WOMEN AGAINST THEIR WILL.

It’s ok to be fat.
it’s ok to love being fat.
it’s ok to be thin.
it’s ok to love being thin.

It’s ok to modify yourself through hairstyles, colors, piercings, tattoos, and fashion.

So why, then, is it not ok for a woman to make her own decision to lose weight?
if beauty isn’t contingent on weight, WHAT is the fucking problem?

If you can’t extend that same acceptance to people who CHOOSE to lose weight, DO NOT CALL YOURSELF BODY POSITIVE.

Stop assuming peoples’ reasons for weight loss, and stop trying “free” people from wanting to lose weight “because feminism.”

That’s not what feminism is.  

STOP.
SHAMING.
WEIGHT.
LOSS.

YES, some women do feel pressured to lose weight, and do it for reasons that are body shaming and faulty. 
I will NEVER ever deny that.

But you have NO right to assume that’s why ANY woman does it.
ASK her first.  Fucking ask.

It is as valid and as empowered as ANY independent decision a woman makes for her self, if it is something she is doing FOR HER GODDAMN SELF.

Stop giving her a hard time.

Stop. 
Stop doing it. 
Stop.  

I’m so tired of having to school people on this bullshit. 

thank you. 

Ableism must be included in our analysis of oppression and in our conversations about violence, responses to violence and ending violence. Ableism cuts across all of our movements because ableism dictates how bodies should function against a mythical norm—an able-bodied standard of white supremacy, heterosexism, sexism, economic exploitation, moral/religious beliefs, age and ability. Ableism set the stage for queer and trans people to be institutionalized as mentally disabled; for communities of color to be understood as less capable, smart and intelligent, therefore “naturally” fit for slave labor; for women’s bodies to be used to produce children, when, where and how men needed them; for PWD to be seen as “disposable” in a capitalist and exploitative culture because we are not seen as “productive;” for immigrants to be thought of as a “disease” that we must “cure” because it is “weakening” our country; for violence, cycles of poverty, lack of resources and war to be used as systematic tools to construct disability in communities and entire countries.
— 

Mia Mingus, Moving Toward the Ugly: A Politic Beyond Desirability

Damn. This is one of those cases where I’ve thought about snippets of what she’s saying, but never put it all together as part of one setup. My mind is blown.

For my zine, one of the borders I am thinking about (and hoping to synthesize stuff on) is the border between an individual’s body and their sociopolitical surroundings; basically, who is allowed autonomy over their body, and how thoroughly are they allowed it. Things like sterilization abuse, imprisonment, environmental racism. I think I’m not going to work on sexual assault or disabilities and how they relate to body autonomy, because they are very big broad topics that I can’t do justice to. This passage is perfect for me to come across right now!

ETA: I also do not mean to respond to a quote about ableism by saying that disabilities and body autonomy can wait for another zine. I want to hold off until I can do that right. For now, I want to look at a few of these ways that she is pointing out that narratives of ability and fitness shape other social forces.