Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The things people say to me.

First thing yesterday I seriously misspelled Lesley's name and have to go edit that. Ugh I HATE it when I do that. She is a Lesley not a Leslie.

Anyway I received what I'm assuming was a well intentioned little letter thingy via the advice form and I decided to address it publicly since the sender did so anonymously.

This person commented on something I said awhile back (no I couldn't find the exact post) about the pervasive "thin whiteness" of many of the sex oriented places I frequent on the internet. The upshot of the comment was apparently this person doesn't understand what I mean.

Okay let me preface the following with this.

For perspective I am a Black fat queer woman. I have spent time with kinky people, I have had non kinky lovers and companions. I am sex positive. I am very in favor of people getting their happy tingles in whatever way they deem necessary as long as it doesn't involve children or animals.

Further my intention here isn't to be a nit picky asshole. My aim is to maybe give people a view that they might not have, a window.

I am going to try and be mindful of the fact that there are a lot of people for whom these issues are non-issues. A lot of people who have never thought about it, or who might feel they are being picked on which is not my intention here at all.

We all on the same page?


I frequent, look at, examine and read a lot of things that are about sex and sexuality. Books, blogs, photo websites, occasionally magazines when they catch my eye. I don't take in these things and analyze them. I'm not always just looking for the crotchal area tingle.

Unfortunately in the past few years I've become less and less able to simply overlook inequities and the things that just make me uncomfortable.

For instance.

I read a ton of sex blogs regularly. Some of them are personal blogs, some of them are corporate, some of them are there for titillation, information etc.

Save for a few instances, the constant (as with seemingly everything in America) images and ideas put forth as The Sexy, are thin white people. Muscley muscle men, rib showing ladies who from the tits down often look prepubescent. Those who are deemed hot enough are frequently cheered on to do or say things that are fucked up or outright mean.

Yes, I realize that a lot of this has to do with marketing and profit and money etc.

That does not stop me from feeling on a personal level a sting of outright rejection out of hand.

I do not belong in this club.

I am not a thin white lady.

Rationally I am fully aware that no it's not personal. However, that does not stop me from my interest waning.

Additionally, when the supposed "alt" scenes (not just the "alt" as in tattoos etc but those who are supposedly considered out of the mainstream) seem to subscribe fully to the mainstream ideals and ways of sexuality I personally feel a tad let down. That is probably a personality flaw, I acknowledge and own that.

My view these days is that if you are presenting yourself as some outsider, indie type make an effort to do that.

Again please remember that these are my feelings and impressions I am not trying to present this to you as fact.

Lately, my interest in a lot of the sexuality oriented material I've been reading has waned further. I really cannot maintain an interest if I don't relate at all.

The problem is not bloggers, or content producers individually. Everyone has their tastes and their niches, the problem is the difficulty in finding those other voices and images. It's difficult for me to get behind or want to be involved in new ventures or communities that on a superficial look have nothing to do with anything that I am or ever have been.

I will be the first person to admit that being the other, or first different person to bust in and say OH HAY CHECK ME OUT, is not something I'm really into. I don't have the patience to deal with it honestly.

If I never hear things like the following (which people have said to me on the internets recently)

"I'm not really into black chicks..."
"But you're not really fat..."
"No, I don't mean you .."

It's annoying. It's tiring.

There are times when I really don't need to be reminded that regardless of the otherness of a particular community etc, that I am the extra super other.

It's hard.

What can be done?

If I had my way, more people would be mindful of these things. And when I say mindful I do not mean by any stretch of the imagination that everyone has to love and welcome my fat Black ass, but I would like people to take a second to have a touch of empathy and step into these shoes for a second.

See these things, your own work through my eyes for a quick minute. I've told you how I feel, exercise your brain matter.

Maybe, realize when you say things that disparage people based on their body size, or your own body size that it is alienating. That quite possibly, you of the open mind are not being cool.

Do I want everyone to suddenly wanna fuck fatties, and Black chicks?


Again, I say keep your tastes, do your thing, be who you are.

Just be aware that your entire audience may not be who you think they are. Be aware that, yes what seems to be a passing remark or trend of remarks can hurt people you might want to not hurt.

Yes I know, somebody is going to snark me. Someone is going to think this is bullshit and I don't really care. What I hope is that somebody gets it, if one person reads this and says to themselves "oh wow, I never thought about that." then proceed to think about it.

That's it.

Feel free to comment, point and laugh etc.

Homo Out.


vesta44 said...

A few years ago (back about 7 or 8 years) I got interested in the BDSM scene. I went to gatherings where people hooked up and got to know each other, talked about different kinks, showed the items they made (floggers, etc), and talked about places other than porn shops where you could find things that could be adapted for bondage and other fun things. I was fat then, and I wasn't the only fat woman there (and there were some fat men also). There were also queer folk and a couple of transgender folk too, but only one of the attendees was a POC (he was from India, a pretty cool guy). The only POC I ever met in the BDSM scene were in NYC (I met them online and then went to visit them after chatting online with them weekly for a couple of years). DH watches the shit on Cinemax After Dark and I've noticed that none of the people in that soft-core porn are fat, of any color other than white, and man, are they ever bad actors. I think one of the main reasons I don't get into any kind of porn is because I just can't relate to any of the people shown in it since none of them are fat (or even close to it). For me, if porn is going to be realistic, it should reflect all the variety there is in this world, and that includes POC and people of all sizes.
So I can sorta kinda see where you're coming from, and you're right.

Anonymous said...

Make that "thin, white, YOUNG, people". I'm 35 and hard-pressed to find my age demographic represented as anything other than the lonely housewife/cougar type. I imagine the higher the age goes, the harder it is to find yourself represented, outside the niche kink arenas (eg. "Guzzling Grannies" and the like).

Anonymous said...

This corresponds with my experience. Quite often in the kink communities I've belonged to the standard of beauty is rather vanilla to the point that attraction to "others" is viewed as a kink. A friend of mine in the BDSM community has been told "no thanks, Black's not my kink." I understand that attraction is an odd thing and not something we have entirely within our control but I've felt a similar sense of alienation.

Twistie said...

I, too, am deeply bothered by the homogenization of porn/sexual ideals. If I'm going to play in the fantasy, I want a fantasy that has room for me. I'm white, yes, but I'm also short, fat and past forty.

A couple years ago I saw a documentary on women in the porn industry, and was really struck by one image. They were talking to a producer who was a fat, middle-aged single mom. She was working on a lesbian film, and she stood there among all the actresses in her picture talking glowingly of how she prides herself on producing work that showcases such very different types of beauty, because variety is so important, don't you know.

Out of eight performers, there was not one who wasn't white. There was not one who was not tall. One of them had dark hair. The rest were all blonde. Every single one had augmented breasts. All of them wore their hair well past their shoulders. Every one of them had a thin, muscular body.

If that's variety and celebrating the diversity of female beauty, I'd really, really hate to see homogeny.

Piffle said...

I don't do visual porn, but I do like romance novels, which often have pretty pornographic bits in; and I too have a tough time finding any heroines who are fat or over forty like me. I think that as porn becomes more mainstream, which it is, that more and more the mainstream ideals are going to prevail. It's sad.

spacedcowgirl said...

It's almost like the fake "sex-positive" "feminism" that is found in the mainstream these days. The same old sexist crap is wrapped up in an "empowered" package and we're supposed to be grateful for it. In the same way, "indie" aesthetics seems to include basically the same look as mainstream standards push, except with different-colored hair and more piercings and tattoos. It's like, be kinky and weird! Let your freak flag fly! Um, what? Being attracted to fat women? Sorry, that's a little *too* weird. Being white, I can't speak firsthand to the POC issue, but I know you are right just based on what I've observed. Not-thin women and women of color (despite both categories making up a huge percentage of the women actually living and walking around out in society) are consigned to the most niche of porn sites. It's like (as someone observed above) being into BDSM, being pierced, being fat or being black are all considered separate "kinks" that cannot coexist together, no matter how much that "kink" is actually a major component of a real person's identity.

(Note, I'm not saying it's bad to actually be sex-positive, just that men have redefined this to mean "women who eat steak but are still thin and love to wear ridiculous uncomfortable lingerie with their fake tan and implanted breasts while they give me a blow job." Again, if someone enjoys any or all of these things, far be it from me to say they are "bad" or anything absurd like that, but I dislike being told that this is how I have to be.)

Raven Nightshade said...

I know it's very "anti-feminist" to think this, but it's a shame that there's no non-white equivalent to Jenna Jameson. Tera Patrick doesn't count because 90% of the universe is completely unaware that she's of Asian descent.

If you think about how rarely a Woman of Color is in Playboy or Maxim, then it's a very clear reflection of the actual video industry. WoC's are relegated to other publications like King, Vibe Vixen, and anything else you've seen with either Toccara, Deelishis, or the "video girl" of your choice on the cover. WoC's are limited to what PoC's will buy because despite the alleged progress society has made, non-Caucasian women are considered either unattractive or a fetish/kink.

Even in porn, you're second-class if you're not a pale(or tanned), blonde, blue-eyed, size 4 with a DD cup.

And it sucks that this has to be a point of discussion when Bettie Page died yesterday. She may not have been a plussie, but she is the ancestress of today's Suicide Girl, God's Girl, or what have you. And I bet most of those girls haven't a clue that she's basically been in hiding for decades, and only did interviews and autographs on the condition that no one take pictures of her because she wanted to be remembered for the person she was, not the person she is.

DavitaCuttita said...

I get what you've mentioned, but see it as a double-edged sword.

You already know that I'm Black. From what I've seen and hear amongst my peers & elders, within/without various Black (and other non-White) cultures is that BDSM, etc are all essentially "White" activities. Perhaps you may have been reading around and come across comments in regards to sexual practices by a PoC that just goes "Eew, only White people do that".

Once again, I'll reiterate that I get where you're coming from. At the same time though, mainly White people run a lot of the media out there, especially the sexual stuff; and if they were to portray PoC in that manner (bondage may have way too many slavery allusions for some people) I'm sure there'd be a shitstorm not of support, but stereotypes and of Coloured People who believe that they're being portrayed sexually lecherously or that their cultures' sexual practices are being "White-washed" to what White people consider "normal" (although I guess some stuff may still be pretty far out for many Whites). Which sucks for PoC who are into whatever they're into, regardless of race.

Double-edged sword, my damie.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the double-edged sword is important. In response to an earlier post, I don't/wouldn't WANT women of color in maxim or playboy--we're (WOC, of which I'm one) already subject to a variety of assumptions about our sexuality/easiness/exoticism/etc, and I doubt that these publications are even capable of portraying women of color as anything besides the "animal other."

Y'all might be aware of the media research done showing that this is pretty ubiquitous in "regular" advertisements--WOC are much more commonly portrayed in scenes/poses/clothing that animalize them, invoke the exotic (the "jungle bunny," "china doll," etc). If ads for perfume or clothes can't step beyond stereotypes with WOC, I hardly expect Maxim/Playboy and their "hard-core" counterparts to do so. Of course, some people in individual situations might play with those images/etc in their own sexuality, but I see that as highly different from the ubiquity of these images in the media, and the near-absence of any alternative images of WOC.

Finally, 2 disclaimers:

1) Full disclosure: because of the dynamics you describe in your entry, I'm not interested in most porn/sexual images/movies/etc. I wouldn't make these materials illegal, adults can do what they like/etc, but I don't engage them in my own sexual life because in my experience/viewpoint these kinds of materials can actually limit sexual expression. That's my opinion, and reasonable people can disagree.

2) I use the "animal" critique in full knowledge that all humans are indeed animals, but I think that most people who are thoughtful about these matters can see a difference between not liking that WOC are portrayed as animals and not liking animals. Just in case, though, I thought I'd offer that disclaimer.


PS Sorry for the long entry! I got writing and my thoughts kept coming!
PPS BTW, I enjoy your blog and appreciate your thoughtful viewpoints, even if I don't always agree with some things.

Raka said...

Well said! I'm white, but it bugs me also. I've seen so many gorgeous men of various ethnicities and I wanna see them on TV too!

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