Yeah, so this was part of the long response I wrote to lyricalagony that Tumblr ate earlier this week! (Which I’ll try to reconstruct in another post in a minute.)
I’m so sorry, I totally did not intend to suggest that non-binary, grey, multivalent, and other “new” identities are just widely embraced and celebrated everywhere. They absolutely are not. There’s a lot of pushback, often violent, from both cishetero society, and from more normative strains of LGBT+ culture.
I was only trying to point out that in spaces (such as queer Tumblr) where such identities are relatively uncritically embraced, BDSMers in those spaces still push back hard against the idea of queer and non-binary orientations towards power — even while celebrating the idea of, or themselves identifying with, non-binary orientations toward sexuality, romance, gender, etc.
I wanted to highlight, specifically, the hypocrisy of BDSMers who consider themselves “radical” in other realms but aren’t willing to have that “radical” lens turned on their rape fantasies. But I see how the way I wrote that post failed to express that clearly.
(TBH, I was consciously trying out the patented William Gillis rhetorical tactic for dragging the Overton Window in your preferred direction — which is basically to state a polemical position as if it’s a totally middle-of-the-road opinion that everybody already agrees with and then, rather than stopping to defend your point, continue on from it as if your initial premise is completely non-controversial and obvious to anyone who isn’t a political cro-magnon. In retrospect, this tactic may be more or less effective depending on context and on whether or not one is actually William Gillis.)
In any case, it wasn’t my intention to erase any other non-binary or queer peoples’ experiences with having their identities policed. That does happen to an intense degree, and my post implied that it does not. Thanks for catching that and calling me out on it. My apologies.
I appreciate your going into more details on what you meant. That said, I am not fond of call-out culture, and don’t feel like you owe me or anyone an apology for what you initially wrote.
I see a lot of people pouring a lot of energy and passion into non-threatening things in social spaces, and shying away from doing the (risky, confrontational) work of making said social spaces respectful and accommodating of them. As long as the mainstream can play whack-a-mole with nonconformists who are just tentatively expressing “I use a non-derogatory name for what I am,” it’s nipping any real opposition in the bud. But it’s being able to ridicule and oppress with impunity because the nonconformists are … I don’t know. Hoping that if they ask for innocuous, next to nothing changes, society will take pity on them?
That looks like a failed strategy to me; a failed strategy that activist groups cling to because it means they don’t have to resort to any kind of violence. The situation is already violent, but all the violence is being used against them, and in pacifist’s minds this means they have the moral high ground. They are “right,” and onlookers are supposed to conclude that they are right as a result of seeing that they are being bullied.
Whereas, I think onlookers conclude that most liberals who advocate for social change are colossal wimps who fall apart at the prospect of social rejection or hostility. Reasonable or not. Justified or not. Pacifists don’t deal with the fact that mainstream people clearly want to attack / coerce them into silence and inaction. They just … complain about how persecuted they are. Who would want to join that?
It relates to what you were saying about non-monogamy: the accepted norm functions because most people believe it has a monopoly on the kind of relationship they want. If you’re proving it doesn’t, you’re threatening the (already unstable) agreements people made with each other. Your not crashing and burning is an affront to their unfree choices.
Some of them will actively try to make your life miserable, in case misery isn’t a natural consequence of what you’re doing. Because if you aren’t miserable as a result of doing something society has expressly told you not to do, society faces mass defection. Or at least, it faces its own paranoid fear of mass defection. Which is more than enough to make it marshal forces against you.
I experienced this first and secondhand as a homeschooler. Most people were unhappy with the consequences of sending their kids to school, and some were deeply threatened by the idea that not everyone was doing it. They tried to hassle my parents in a million different ways with the idea that they were hurting society, hurting me, being selfish, (you name it, someone accused them of it,) for taking me out of school. A number of them also tried to coerce me into saying what they wanted to hear - that I was unhappy and would really rather be normal, but my parents were preventing that. I didn’t. Not once. But it’s hard to describe the amount of coercion that went into their trying to pull that kind of an answer out of me. Also, you know how many schoolkids get asked if they wouldn’t rather stay at home, learn at their own pace, and get some sleep for a change? I’ve never met a single one. That made it very clear to me that the nosy people asking me personal questions did not give a shit about what children wanted, unless it agreed with their preconceptions of how the world should be; unless it made them feel wise and good about their normative choices.
My point is, though, that activist culture has done a piss poor job being honest with people about the fact that they don’t get a choice about being political. The same way you can’t safeword rape culture, you can’t make others open-minded and accepting of a thing that they rejected in order to be perceived as normal. “Being normal” involves a lot of sacrifices, disappointment, and unhappiness. Not to mention boredom and loss of self. The stated payoff is that you are rewarded with as much happiness, acceptance, and stability as a human can get. Someone who waltzes in and wants those nice things without martyring themselves in the process makes everyone who took the bad bargain and settled for it feel cheated. If life doesn’t punish that, they’re quite willing to. And I think it’s telling, and terrible, that activist culture doesn’t address that at all. Doesn’t warn people of what they’re in for from other people, and why, when they embrace the ways that they’re different. Because that whole dynamic is intrinsic to the struggle, but you don’t have to go in completely unprepared for it and unarmed.
Tags: feminism, sexuality, coercion, gaslighting, psyops, discourse, pop social justice, being normal isn't a good thing, when normality = complicity with abuse