Thursday, August 13, 2009

Frigid Bitches

I recently read an insightful post dealing with rape at the blog Fugitivus. The author talks about how women are discouraged from speaking up for themselves in every area of their lives. Then, people are surprised when we fail to scream "NO!" or fight off a rapist. And if we react passively to such violence, it wasn't a 'real' rape. The whole post is great, but this is my favorite part:

If women are raised being told by parents, teachers, media, peers, and all surrounding social strata that:

  • it is not okay to set solid and distinct boundaries and reinforce them immediately and dramatically when crossed (”mean bitch”)
  • it is not okay to appear distraught or emotional (”crazy bitch”)
  • it is not okay to make personal decisions that the adults or other peers in your life do not agree with, and it is not okay to refuse to explain those decisions to others (”stuck-up bitch”)
  • it is not okay to refuse to agree with somebody, over and over and over again (”angry bitch”)
  • it is not okay to have (or express) conflicted, fluid, or experimental feelings about yourself, your body, your sexuality, your desires, and your needs (”bitch got daddy issues”)
  • it is not okay to use your physical strength (if you have it) to set physical boundaries (”dyke bitch”)
  • it is not okay to raise your voice (”shrill bitch”)
  • it is not okay to completely and utterly shut down somebody who obviously likes you (”mean dyke/frigid bitch”)

If we teach women that there are only certain ways they may acceptably behave, we should not be surprised when they behave in those ways.

And we should not be surprised when they behave these ways during attempted or completed rapes.

Indeed, the vast majority (if not all) of my fellow women have said yes, or said nothing, when they really wanted to say no. Whether or not it was rape, most women have had experiences of a sexual nature that they would have rather not had. People who say "You're asexual? You must have been sexually abused" are in denial of how many people, particularly women, actually experience sexual assault. We all know women who have been sexually assaulted-- how many of them are actually asexual? According to RAINN, 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Obviously, this doesn't match up with the statistics on asexuality. Not all asexuals are out n' proud, and I think these unsure folks, who are in the majority, are even more vulnerable to saying yes just to go along with "what is expected". It's pretty hard to say "NO!" to unwanted sexual advances when you are, like most aces unaware of asexuality, trying to "fit in" and be sexual. I bet that a lot of asexuals who came out later in life can attest to this.

And there's another link between asexuality and crazy, angry, and/or shrill bitchiness. Whenever people ask about my asexuality and say things like, "Were you raped?" "Are you a virgin?" "Have you ever had an orgasm?" my insides are saying something like, "GO FUCK YOURSELF!" But, that never comes to the surface. It would make me a crazy bitch, right? So, instead, I do what "good girls" do-- try to politely and reasonably educate these boundary-crossing people. Whenever I do this, it makes me feel ashamed, violated, and like I have let myself down. I always promise myself that next time, I will assert myself-- maybe not scream "GO FUCK YOURSELF!" but mention that the question is inappropriate. However, in the moment, I become so scared of retribution, of being labeled, perhaps, an "uncooperative bitch". Maybe if this happens enough, and I feel like a traitor to my self-worth enough, I will start not to give a damn about being thought of as any kind of bitch. Of course, I advocate education. But not when you're feeling attacked and disempowered. When a not-so-thoughtful sexual person finds out that you are asexual, they can automatically start coming at you hard with the social privilege that they discover that they have and you lack. A situation like this is not a good ground for education.

Like many women (and men), I am obsessed with what other people think of me. Even though I've always been a feminist, even though I know that being called a bitch usually means you're trying to stand up for yourself, my conditioning is very strong. Somewhere along the way, I picked up the idea that being disliked is the worst thing in the world. And I can't believe that I'm alone in this. It seems absurd that you'd worry about being disliked by, say, someone trying to sexually harass you. But women think this all the time. I hope that just because in the past, I haven't been as much of an "angry" "mean" and "stuck-up" bitch as I'd like to be, that it isn't too late to start. Luckily, being a frigid bitch is something I've already got down. Maybe that's a good beginning.

Administrative notice: I'm going on vacation until August 23rd, so I'll resume blogging once I get back (Unless I get eaten by a moose, that is). Until next time, bitch on, angry bitches, bitch on...

17 comments:

nekobawt said...

hear, hear!

enjoy your vacation, ily. :)

Myself--Who Else? said...

Ooh, I like this post.

I have a story that relates to this. I like to talk to cab drivers, but sometimes this leads to problems--they ask me if I have a boyfriend, and when put on the spot I feel like I have to answer. It's implied that if I cave and say yes, they'll leave me alone, but my feminist pride bristles at having to do that. So I'm usually honest and say no, and just deal with getting hit on.

This most recent time, when out of the blue I was asked, I lied and said I had a girlfriend. I figured, that would get him off my back, and that didn't feel icky to me to say because it didn't reek of misogyny. Win/win, right? Turns out it was a very bad idea. The guy pretty much flipped out, got visibly agitated, and started badgering me about why I would choose to offend God. And that's not even the worst part. At the end of the cab ride, before he gave me change for my fare, he began simulating oral sex with his hands and tongue, trying to make me understand how disgusting and dirty I was for what I was doing with my "girlfriend."

Later I told my best guy friend about it, and he asked me, "When these cab drivers ask you, why don't you just simply say, 'I don't feel comfortable answering that question?' It was get them to back off, and bonus--in your case, it will literally be true?" It's like I had never even considered his option before, which to him was totally obvious. To think the lengths we women go to to avoid setting boundaries and sticking up for ourselves.

Noskcaj Llahsram said...

Bon voyage
And don't joke, A Møøse once bit my sister...

Anonymous said...

I am the host and producer of a weekly radio show called Talk Of The Town - broadcast out of the DC metro area. Looking to find someone to come on-air with me and discuss asexuality covering a range of questions. Can't find an email address so email me if interested, or if someone who reads this is interested - onair at parkersunshine dot com

Anonymous said...

I'm in awe of this post. This is 100% "True that!" material here. I agree with you completely!

Adair said...

Awesome. :D

One thing I've noticed, though, is that people have totally different senses of what is "inappropriate". I feel like someone's striking below the belt if they mention that I'm female like it matters, but I wouldn't have a problem with someone asking me if I'd ever had sex or an orgasm or whatever. I would answer them to the best of my ability and think nothing of it, but I guess for the sake of people like you, I should also mention that many asexual people would see such a question as invasive.

Anonymous said...

http://www.heartless-bitches.com/

ToyboxCharley said...

I've stumbled over this blog while looking for sex toy blogs, and got fascinated by the whole asexual subject. I've got some miles on me, but I had not heard of this condition really being set apart. I can think back through my life of various persons who tranquilly passed their years without showing the least interest in or problem without, physical sex. I know it's a women's blog, but I'm glad I dropped in. I like your story and your style.

Anonymous said...

To the cab driver who asks personal questions... When someone asks you, "Do you have a boyfriend?" you could always answer, "You mean am I sucking face with someone on a regular basis? Ew!"

I don't think there's a comeback for that.

Anonymous said...

In situations like the cab one, you can always say something ambiguous, such as simply, "I'm spoken for." A little deceitful, but perfectly true.

Cosmia said...

Bravo, Ily. This needs saying.

Ily said...

Thank you for all the comments! I'm really glad so many of you can relate.

To me, what's inappropriate totally varies based on my relationship to the person. If a close friend asked me something like, "Are you a virgin?", I would not be offended by that. But, that question coming from someone you don't know that well, and who doesn't care about you, just because you're asexual? I find that uncool. But your mileage may vary.

As for the cab story (whoa, really relevant, thank you for sharing!), it wouldn't have occurred to me to say "I don't feel comfortable answering that question" either. (Although all cab drivers ever ask me is where I'm going.) This reminds me of my role model for these types of situations-- in my favorite documentary, the "Up" series, the interviewer asks a boy (I think he's 14) if he has a girlfriend. He says (in this very heavy Yorkshire accent), "I don't like to answer those sorts of questions." In the film, it's very cute. I would really like to channel this attitude, and I guess in theory I know that I'm not obligated to answer any question. But I tend to get very frazzled in the moment.

Sadly, if someone is sketchily trying to hit on you, I doubt that even if you did have a boyfriend it would make any difference...unless he was in the cab with you.

Toybox- I'm happy that people are randomly finding this blog. For what it's worth, I don't try to target the blog towards any gender in particular. I definitely write about female experiences (I have no firsthand knowledge of male experiences) because sexuality is so tied into gender. In case anyone was wondering what my thinking was on that point :-)

Anonymous said...

I found this blog looking into asexuality. I think I may be asexaual. Reading the post and comments further makes me think so--I have felt like that often.
What I would like to do (if I dared) to a stranger that asked me rude questions such as those, would be to turn the questions back on them. "When did you lose your virginity? How many people have you had sex with? Do you have any STDs?" etc. Depending on the person, this may make them realize how rude they are being. If not, you may have share time and a new friend. :)

Anonymous said...

No one should scream things like "go fuck yourself" in any situation. I don't care if you're a man or a woman.

Ily said...

Just to be clear, those were my thoughts, not what I actually said. I don't think there's anything wrong with thinking "go fuck yourself", although it would be an unproductive thing to say in most circumstances. Although, I would argue, there are some where it would be warranted.

Anonymous said...

I've found this blog today and have found it fascinating and insightful. Although a single forty something woman from the UK (of African Caribbean descent), I find that I have a lot in common with your thoughts and beliefs and desires (esp the one of community, which is one that I'm wrestling with right now).

I think that although humans being have evolved to a certain degree, we are still run by our reptilian brains and in any situation our survival wiring gets first crack at everything.

So in the case of the cab driver's inappropriate questioning, it may not feel safe to tell him to f**k off, because he is a bloke and bigger than you and you are in his car and relatively captive and he is driving it and so not a good idea to get him angry whilst driving.............that response makes perfect sense.

And in terms of women being taught not to set boundaries (and I was often castigated for wanting to, which means that I have a real issue setting them as it doesn't feel safe).

If we get back to basics then women need to be accessible (sexually and emotionally) in order to have babies and ensure continuation of the species. Women are also responsible for the nurturance of the species.

That is a hell of a responsibility and if women start setting boundaries and tolerating less shit then they will feel less inclined to do so, so criticise and stigmatise those women who assert themselves as bitches to put other women off and ensure the status quo.

In fact it is happening to some degree, in wealthier countries where women are able to be financially independent, then they are choosing not to marry or have children. when survival isn't an issue then we see what people really want.

There are plenty of women happy with this situation (in fact there is research which says that single, never married women are happier than married women, single and married men) but all the media highlight are those women who yearn for a husband and family, because we don't want to give too much credence to those who are happy. It may encourage others and what then?

Ily said...

Thank you for commenting! I think single women who are satisfied with that can often feel like they "should" be upset about it...but the relationship landscape is changing, and maybe that will also change.