the rack and the screw

Who’s Afraid of the Hairy Lesbian Cat-Lady?

Posted in feminism, pop culture, something queer by bellareve on May 1, 2009

Not me. I always thought this anti-feminist insult to be so absurd and ineffective. As if the person saying it expects me to feel demoralized and shitty and disgusting. But why would I? 

I love cats. I have two and plan to have more, Grey Gardens style, once I settle down. (Unlike Little Edie I’ll take care of mine)

We already know how I feel about body hair…see previous posts.

And I also love lesbians. I ultimately want to be with a woman.

So technically, becoming a hairy lesbian cat lady, or the thought of being with one, makes me happy. Which is the total opposite of the way the anti-feminists want me to feel when I hear that insult. Maybe time to come up with something new?


Bisexual & Bipolar Stereotypes Overlap

Posted in feminism, mental health/madness, something queer by bellareve on April 14, 2009

I’ve noticed that there are similar and  recurring themes, stereotypes, and discourse about bisexual women and women with certain mood disorders (particularly borderline & bipolar) 

Members of both groups are often accused of:

* being manipulative to loved ones (including lying and cheating)

* being unpredictable and impulsive (what will the crazy bitch do next?) 

* being unable to form healthy, stable relationships

* behaving wildly or dramatically (sleeping around, drinking a lot, doing drugs, etc)

* being heartbreakers, abusers, and in general fucked-up (yet exciting!) women to stay away from, lest they ruin your life

Think about how many times you’ve heard variations of “sex with damaged/bi girls (and hey, strippers too) is awesome, but don’t get too close or marry them or take them home to mom.” This is pernicious, stigmatizing, and objectifying. And it doesn’t seem to apply to bisexual or bipolar men. (Although they have their own set of myths & stereotypes)

Does this stem from the expectation that individuals with mental disorders are violent and harmful? For instance, many think that people with schizophrenia are dangerous, but studies suggest they are actually more likely to be victims of crime than perpetrators. When women are added to the equation (and I say added because men are the default) the threat of physical violence is turned into emotional violence. Mentally ill women become “monsters” who wreck family ties with their “attention seeking” stunts.

And bisexual women will totally fuck someone else behind your back! Just ask a guy or a lesbian who has been betrayed. You see, bi girls are unfit for long term commitments. Better have that hot threesome and discard them!

I heart my bush

Posted in blogwars, feminism, sex work by bellareve on April 14, 2009

This is a post on pubic grooming. So I want to preface it by saying that I don’t care how other adult women manage their genital hair. I don’t think women shave/wax to “look like little girls” and I don’t think shaving/waxing has anything to do with one’s status as a Real Feminist. I do believe that male (and female) preference for the bare aesthetic is heavily influenced by trends in pornography. But ultimately it’s your call if you want to pluck it all out, braid daisies into it, or shave it into the shape of a swastika. 

Basically, this post is about my bush, not yours. (overshare warning)

And boy do I have one! When I was stripping, I got rid of it, and came to miss the damn thing. These days I trim around the edges to create a sharp, neat triangle on top, shave what would stick out of a bikini, and leave the rest as is. 

This may not seem earth-shattering or revolutionary, but I have found that literally everyone I know is shocked by it. The people demand answers. My answer is that I like the way it looks more – my eye is drawn happily to the dark triangle. And sex feels good for me either way. 

Having a bush isn’t inherently “empowering,” but I do feel empowered by keeping my body the way I like it, regardless of what a sexual partner may prefer, expect, or demand. If someone isn’t into my bush, they can feel free not to fuck me. (I’ll be ok, I promise)

I perform many other gendered beauty rituals. I am a lipstick bisexual, after all. I dye the hair on my head, I wear dresses, heels, and rouge. I’m not particularly low maintenance, and have been described as “prissy” and “dainty.” Perhaps this is why people are surprised when they find out I’ve got a thick, curly bush with a mind of its own. 

So far she hasn’t deterred any potential partners. My last two girlfriends were pleased with the fuzzy texture. Some men have found it titillating and transgressive, as it is now so rare for girls of my generation. But even if I get the odd complaint in the future, my bush is nonnegotiable and here to stay. She’s in it for the long haul.

Top three NSFW reasons I love my bush:

1. It makes me feel like my pussy is wearing a fancy lace corselette. 

2. I like touching it against other beautiful bushes.

3. When I talk about it, people laugh.

In defense of the second wave

Posted in blogwars, feminism, sexual violence by bellareve on April 5, 2009

Second wave (1970s) feminism is probably the most vilified, misunderstood, bad-mouthed, trashed and bashed social movement in American history. It is dismissed as ineffective, obsolete, and irrelevant, and at the same time blamed for doing irreparable damage to men, women, and society.

Now, it is absolutely reasonable and productive to be critical of certain aspects of the second wave, including the leaders, the strategies, and the ideologies. Among other things, I find tremendous fault with the focus on middle-class professional women, with the hostility towards sex workers and butch/femme lesbian relationships, and particularly with some of Betty Friedan’s assertions. (Like when she said Phyllis Schlafly should be “burned at the stake,” or her insistence that being a housewife is equivalent to being a child)

However. I am still fucking grateful for the accomplishments of second wave feminists. My life, and the lives of other women, would be qualitatively worse without them. And the perceived “failures” of the second wave are as much the result of anti-feminist stereotypes, mischaracterizations and distortions as they are the result of poor organizing within the movement. 

Here are, IMO, the most significant contributions of the second wave, obviously not an exhaustive list:

1. Awareness of domestic violence and rape, specifically support for survivors (hotlines, shelters, counseling, trauma centers) and prevention campaigns and legislation. These things have literally saved women’s lives. Personally I might have committed suicide after my rape and abuse if it weren’t for such programs and the social recognition of violence against women.

2. Speaking of saving lives: reproductive rights, primarily access to abortion and contraception, but also the knowledge and demystification of female anatomy and sexuality.

3. Recognition of/laws against sexual harassment – both physical and verbal -in the workplace. I’m pretty happy I don’t work in an office like the one in “Mad Men,” thanks. 

(Not to say that the above problems are solved. They aren’t, but we sure got a good start and things are mighty different now compared to forty years ago)

love money sex

Posted in feminism, something queer by bellareve on March 29, 2009

I have often wondered how much truth there is to the stereotype that straight women are sooooo super attracted to rich guy$!!! The whole thing about money as an aphrodisiac, and about females as biologically programmed to seek males who “have resources” and “can provide” etc.

I suspect very little. 

I am not a straight woman, so I wouldn’t know for sure. But I have dated people of both genders, and I can say unequivocally that of all my partners, the poor ones treated me a lot better than the ones with money.  And really, I have been in relationships with some broke people. They were always kinder to me than the financially well-off ones* who tended to:

a) spend in an effort to have control over me/manipulate me

b) make me feel guilty about not having enough of my own money to buy gifts, dinner, etc.

c) act suspicious that I was ‘using them’ for money

*This pattern, in my experience, was the same whether my partner was male or female.

C is extra funny and inaccurate, because I have never ruled out potential partners based on how rich/poor they are. My level of physical attraction or commitment to a person has nothing to do with wealth, and expensive shit just doesn’t impress me. Now, one could accuse me of being superficial on other accounts…I am very picky regarding physical appearence. Cute face or forget it.

BDSM & “mental health”

Posted in blogwars, feminism, mental health/madness, sexual pleasure, sexual violence, something queer by bellareve on February 19, 2009

I’m not going to talk much about BDSM, except for this: The idea that women who like it are sick and need “mental help”/therapy.

Guess what? The mental health establishment is not always kind or helpful to women (or queers). Not even in 2009!!!! The institution you recommend is not exactly grounded in feminism. Although psychology and psychiatry can and have benefited some suffering people tremendously, they have also historically been coercive, violent, misogynist, and homophobic. So I wouldn’t dream of telling a stranger on the internet that she “needed” therapy. Disrespectful, for one thing. 

Now if you wanna talk about how fucked up and sick SOCIETY is, have at it, because that is another story.


Posted in blogwars, feminism, mental health/madness, sex work, something queer by bellareve on February 19, 2009

Here’s another topic that I feel gets drastically simplified in the ol’ sex debates. 

In one corner, we have some rad fems (like Twisty) who insist that, in a patriarchy, women have no agency. Zip, zero, nada. We might as well be inanimate objects batted about by our Overlords.

The other corner says women do have agency, and get mad over and over again when this is denied. They don’t really buy the whole patriarchy concept at all, and treat it like an wacky, irrational conspiracy theory wielded by mean-spirited womyn on the internet.

Once again, I’m not comfortable with either position.

I am comfortable with saying this: many of the world’s women don’t have agency, because they are impoverished, enslaved, institutionalized, and/or incarcerated. Agency can also be limited by things like financial duress, lack of educational/health resources, and being of a marginalized race or sexual orientation. Also, I cannot speak for other survivors, but I felt my agency was nonexistent when I was in an abusive relationship. And I do not speak for others with disabilities, but I feel that my mood disorder significantly limits my agency. 

On the other hand, there are women with the luck, privilege, and resources to have agency. And if a woman tells me she’s free, my instinct is to believe & trust her. Also, I would need to see some type of solid evidence that patriarchy erases all agency for every single person born female before I could get on board with that. It’s not something I can just take as a given if you say it enough.

Whither Choice?

Posted in blogwars, feminism by bellareve on February 19, 2009

I think one of the major fissures in the sex-blog-wars has to do with how choice relates to feminism.

There is one group of people who define feminism as predominantly about gender equality, and the ability of a woman to make her own choices. The freedom to choose, without criticism or judgement, is the ultimate priority. 

Another group, more associated with the radical branch, defines feminism as female liberation from male dominance and oppression. This camp sees the patriarchal power dynamic as the key problem, and a restructuring/uprooting of it as the prime solution. 

So we are working with two different, and, in my opinion, two legitimate, valid definitions of feminism. When each side calls the other one “anti-feminist,” they really mean, not MY kind of feminism. Which is fine, but should be made clear. Both versions can coexist, and can potentially contribute positive things for women. We just need to realize that any approach is not The Best Most Right feminism, but one of many types.


Posted in blogwars, feminism, sex work, sexual violence by bellareve on February 15, 2009

I love this:

from Cara. My thoughts, listed numerically since for some reason that way makes my brain feel nicer:

1. Any person who has experienced trauma (meant broadly here, I include sexual violence, emotional abuse, involuntary institutionalization, injury/illness, etc) is entitled to define the experience and its effects as they see fit. 

2. Personally, I am both a survivor and a victim. A survivor because I am not dead. A victim because I am still hurting, every day, six years later, due to someone else’s actions. Someone else’s fault.

3. I reject the much repeated idea that women in general, but (second wave) feminists in particular, as well as other minority groups, “victimize ourselves,” “dwell on victimhood,” “perpetuate a myth of victimization,” etc. Individually, it is difficult not to do dwell if one has PTSD. Politically, it is unfair to demand that an oppressed group STFU about it. Which is how I interpret the charge of stopbeingavictim; it slyly suggests that we’re only imagining mistreatment, or that we’re being big whiny oversensitive crybabies about it. When this pertains to something like rape it is particularly sinister and dismissive.

perspectives on female sex work

Posted in blogwars, feminism, sex work, sexual violence by bellareve on February 7, 2009

After a brief stint in sex work, and reading tons of both academic theory/studies & the writing of actual sex workers, I have something to say to the rad fems and the pro-porn/sex positive crowd:

You’re both wrong.

Ok, not exactly. To me, you both have good points and not so good points. I have had a super hard time navigating blogs on this topic because the debate is highly polarized and generally the commenters on particular blogs are just repeating each other and themselves in increasingly more fervent tones. So, intimidated and frustrated, I never comment.

I’d love to finally explain how I feel on the issues I find most problematic. First, to address the views of (some) radical feminists/anti-porn folks:

1. “Sex workers are: lazy, naive, stupid, trashy, bimbos, manipulative, lacking in self respect/dignity/self esteem, greedy,” etc. (I have read things like “a truly smart, resourceful woman would get a legitimate job like the rest of us have to.”) Now, to be fair, these stereotypes are HUGELY popular in mainstream discourse and media, where they no doubt originated. However, if you are a feminist it is ABSOLUTELY your job to defend sex workers and fight AGAINST these characterizations rather than perpetuate and endorse them. (Just as a feminist would defend a career woman or a rape survivor or a single mother, etc.) Otherwise you might as well be an MRA.

2. “Sex work must be gross and disgusting eew all those old guys touching you.” Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. Some of the guys I danced for were awful and traumatizing and others….turned me on. Yep. Some were cute, and I liked dancing for them. I cried a few times, I had fun a few times. Just like with other jobs. It really depends. This is kind of another way of implying that sex workers are tainted & diseased. 

3. “Sex work makes all women look bad.” I think that sex workers are marginalized and stigmatized  in a unique way, and to an extent that doesn’t have much at all to do with “other” or “all” women. Remember, there are Virgins and Whores, women on Pedestals and those in Gutters. I would argue that sex workers are generally treated  faaaaar worse than women who don’t do sex work, and rank faaaaar lower on the social hierarchy. Also, sometimes what another woman does to survive or to support her kids has, um, nothing to do with you. 

… and now addressing the other side, the perspectives of (some) pro-porn/sex positive folks:

1. “Sex work is not a monolith.” I agree! However, any decent observer of human behavior knows that there are PATTERNS and TRENDS which can often tell us a whole lot about a society/institution/culture, etc. Ignoring such patterns seems sloppy and unsophisticated. The DOESN’T mean we should speak in universals or refuse to acknowledge individual differences. But it is entirely reasonable to note general trends in populations. 

2. “There are a few asshole rapist men  out there, who should be prosecuted. But most are decent and harmless. Feminists constantly vilify innocent men and the male gender.” It seems that many debaters on this side of the fence don’t fully accept the idea of a rape culture and instead see rapists and sex abusers as rare outliers. One in six women are victims of sexual assault. One in four girls is sexually abused before she turns 18. Are the same like, 30 dudes (or 300 or 3000 or 30000…) assaulting 16% of the entire world’s women and 25% of its female children/teens? Probably not. Sexual violence is an epidemic, and a great deal of men are guilty. (This is personally a big deal in my life…me, my mother, and my partner are all survivors). 

Also. Add to actual rapists all the men who: dismiss, ignore, make light of, condone, encourage, defend, and/or help facilitate rape. Guilty too, they are. Then? The male gender is Not Looking Too Rosy. Sorry. (Of course, some women do the above things too, also seriously problematic)  

3. “Payment and a signed contract is proof that a sex worker consented.” Essentially, many people believe that unless a woman was underage, trafficked, or had a gun to her head, the sex work was done out of free will. There is little attention to financial/economic coercion. If a woman has no other means of feeding her children, paying for medical care, having shelter, or otherwise surviving, then it is NOT a true choice. To be clear, I think it IS possible for women to have agency and make decisions, but some women act under a highly constrained set of circumstances. Their “choices” are anywhere from severely limited to non-existent. And this absolutely occurs in other industries (agriculture, domestic work, etc) where it is no less fucked up.