here at bananapeppers it is ok to refer to the overt or subtle, intentional or unintentional revulsion, fear, or hatred of same-sex attractions and the people who have them (abbreviated: LGB, LBG, lesbigay, lesbiqueer, queer) as homophobia. it is ok to refer to the same but of trans* people as transphobia.
these words never come up in this conversation, but for the sake of clarity: it is also ok to refer to the “unreasonable fear of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange” as xenophobia. it is also ok to refer to painful or nauseating sensitivity to light (like as experienced during a migraine) as photophobia, and to painful or nauseating sensitivity to sound as phonophobia, although hyperacusis is preferred. it is also ok to refer to the revulsion, fear, or hatred of Muslims as Islamophobia. if you should send me an ask to tell me that you shook a bottle of salad dressing and it re-separated after agitation, you could certainly refer to the oil in your Wish-Bone as hydrophobic.
heterosexism, heterocentrism, heteronormativity, and cissexism do not make good alternatives to perfectly good words because they already have meanings. their meanings differ from homophobia and transphobia similarly to the difference in usage between the words (institutional) sexism and misogyny.
under CONSENT, please mention that verbal communication during sex is perfectly normal, healthy, and of great benefit to everyone involved. this also implies that the ability and right to give or refuse consent is present throughout sex; notably, you have the right to end sex at any point.
and now for the angry shit. this is your and your straight partner’s “queer sex ed curriculum”; it is supposed to be queer, or inclusive of queer people, yes? because that is what “queer sex ed curriculum” means.
why the fuck is the only sex act on which you and Andrew have put any focus PIV sex? do you realize the sorry and damaging lack of applicable sexual information taught to LGB people (you know, who are queer)? you wanna talk about PIV, I’m cool with that; it’s relevant to many. but for God’s sake, flesh out the sections devoted to other sex acts, because it’s a fucking dearth of knowledge out there. fixating on/highlighting PIV sex reinforces the all-too-common myth that PIV sex between a man and a woman is the only sex act that counts for anything. plus, do you know how many lesbians believe that unprotected sex between people with vulvas is safe because the sex ed they receive(d) focuses on men’s dicks and on dicks inside vaginas, and it is assumed that LGB people, many of whom may never put their dick inside someone’s vagina or put their vagina on someone’s dick, are not in the audience or already know everything? do you know how many of our doctors believe that, too? like, I am teaching my doctor about STDs/STIs over here when it should be the other way around because when it comes to sexual healthcare, preventative or treating, he doesn’t know what to do about a lesbian. why are sex acts other than PIV a footnote in the outline of a fucking “queer” sex ed curriculum?
I just can’t believe that a sex ed curriculum called queer could pay such little attention to LGB people, I mean, an American-public-school-level of ignoring, especially when we need that information so badly.
The recent illustrations of Siri, the iPhone 4S voice-recognition based assistant, failing to provide information to users about abortion, birth control, help after rape and help with domestic violence has gotten a lot of notice. Yesterday’s post with screenshots from a Twitter conversation I was a part of has netted 200+ notes the last I looked.
There have been a number of arguments, three of which compelled me. The first was “why aren’t there screenshots?” Here, you have them, in spades. The second two:
“It’s just a phone, why do you expect it do all this?” Siri can answer a lot of health related questions perfectly well, why shouldn’t we expect it to be able to answer reproductive health related queries too? Why treat reproductive health as a walled-off garden that the general public can’t or shouldn’t be exposed to? It’s not simply that in some places Siri has sent people to distant anti-choice fake clinics when they’ve asked where they can get abortions (and there are providers near to them) it’s also that in some locations (including mine) Siri refuses to disclose abortion clinic locations at all. Watch:
So even though there’s a clinic less than 3 miles from where I was sitting at the time, Siri couldn’t find one. Nor could Siri even define abortion. And note what’s missing: no offer to search the web. Usually when Siri can’t find an answer, there’s an offer to search the web for you, as I found when I asked about abortion counseling
So Siri won’t help me find where to get an abortion or search the web for me about it, but will search the web for me to find someone who will talk to be about abortion. Huh. Odd.
But what if I know the name of the clinic I’m looking for? What does Siri do then?
This particular clinic’s name is unique, so much so that if you simply Google “Allegheny Reproductive” you find it, first result. (The website is alleghenyreproductive.com) But Siri is stumped. Not so with other businesses that you provide a full name for, such as:
South Hills Hardware isn’t actually the name of the Hardware store, it’s South Hills True Value Home Center. But that didn’t stop Siri!
But how about if we get a little more specific? City names, or even street names attached to the full and proper names of the other abortion providers in Pittsburgh?
Well, maybe the problem is that Siri just doesn’t have a good index of locations in Pittsburgh? No, I don’t think so.
And as has been discussed elsewhere, it’s not just abortion. It’s birth control. You know, that stuff that 99% of American women will use in their lifetimes. (More common than gyros for certain.)
No birth control clinics to be found. Okay, two questions are raised: why is Siri’s response to the keywords “birth control” mapping to a search for birth control clinics to begin with? Second: why, again, is there no option to search the web? If you search the web, incidentally, for “birth control clinic Pittsburgh” guess what you get?
And if you search, more meaningfully, on Google for your express need, it’s simple to see where you should go:
Siri can’t help in a situation where you need emergency contraceptives, either, a situation that is very time sensitive and when a person might want the app that’s being used to sell their phone, branded as a convenience device that’s meant to save your time, energy and provide what you need at the speaking of a sentence, to be able to help. Here’s Siri’s take on EC:
Now it might be reasonable to think that “emergency contraceptive” means “emergency room” because that’s where emergencies go. But it’s not helpful. EC is available over the counter to adults, at any pharmacy (that’s willing to stock/dispense it). You don’t need or want to go to an ER for it. So while the thinking is clear, it’s wrong. And what happens if you ask for EC by it’s more colloquial name?
And what if you ask for EC by its brand names?
Siri can’t recognize “Plan B.”
And Siri believes that “Plan B One Step” is a company, and provides a stock report. I’m not sure what PLB.AX is but it can’t help me to not get pregnant.
But maybe the issue is that Siri just doesn’t understand the names of medication or where one goes to get medication. That could be beyond Siri’s programming. That’s possible, right?
Overall, Siri is really limited here. There is no legitimate reason that inquiring about a business by name and with the name of the street on which its located (to a device that can pinpoint your location within meters and can use it as a starting parameter for a search) should get a response of “can’t be found” with no option to search further. There’s really no reason why it should be handling birth control requests the way that it does, and no reason why the same keyword searches on these topics give results on Google (or any other general search engine) and nothing on Siri at all.
Another objection I saw was along the lines of “Why would you use Siri if you were raped or beaten by your husband? This is pretty obvious to me: maybe because if you’re hurt badly, all you might be able to do is hold down one button and say what happened to you. Nevertheless, if Siri can understand “I broke a tooth” and direct you to a dentist:
Or knows what to do if you’re simply “hurt”:
Then there’s no excuse for her to be a smartass about serious violence:
At least somewhere in the mix of rape-related inquiries and resultant snark, Siri did sneak in an offer to search the web for me.
Note, however, that Siri does know what rape is, as demonstrated by this query and response:
Why the programming treats that inquiry that way (and can’t find PAAR which is 1.5 miles from where I sit) I do not know. This would be a great time to list those ERs, or perhaps even law enforcement, but apparently rape is just sexual abuse, never a medical or legal issue? I can’t begin to understand this thinking.
Is this the most terrible programming failure ever? No. Is this worth a boycott of Apple? I don’t think so. What it is, however, is a demonstration of a problem. Especially when certain topics seem to be behind a black wall where information that’s readily available online is not being “found” or presented. This is something that Apple and/or Wolfram Alpha need to address and rectify.
I’m not defending people’s right to be disgusted by other people’s bodies. Other people’s bodies are typically none of their business and nobody should be projecting how they feel about pregnancy, disability, size, etc. onto others, especially when it results in hate and subpar treatment. All I was saying is that it’s not automatically internalized-misogyny-at-work for women to get squicked/disgusted/horrified at the thought of their own bodies going through a seriously intense, life-altering, and potentially dangerous set of changes. That doesn’t excuse anyone treating OTHER pregnant bodies like they’re eldritch abominations. Those things do not necessitate each other, you know?
Embodiment stuff is very personal (ahahaha, duh), and I don’t buy that there’s only one “good person” way to feel about yourself and your body.
Why do you keep talking about “other people” when you are clearly including yourself? Look, you just spent months reaming aces for their inability or unwillingness to acknowledge how sexism and homophobia have formed their philosophies towards sex and relationships, but now it’s totes appropriate to make all that shit secondary to personal feelings? Why is the idea that internalized misogyny is involved so terrible that it must dismissed outright, rather than acknowledged as an important factor in increasing anxiety and fear? Why the insistence that I’ve got to spend time validating the fact that some of those gross, othering reactions are totally personal and totally not intended to affect others, before I can to discussing the role of misogyny and control? Why do you insist on framing this attempt to discuss patriarchal construction of highly gendered processes and events as an attempt to make someone feel bad, while simultaneously refusing to acknowledge the greater harmful repercussions of not confronting those reactions? How the fuck are we ever going to discuss anything like that? MOST NEGATIVE REACTIONS TO CHILDBIRTH AND PREGNANCY ARE TREMENDOUSLY AMPLIFIED BY PATRIARCHAL CONSTRUCTIONS OF THE FEMALE-GENDERED BODY AS DISGUSTING, INCOMPETENT, WEAK, AND IN NEED OF CONTROL. IT IS IMPERATIVE TO NAME THIS INFLUENCE AND DISCUSS IT OPENLY, EVEN WHEN DOING SO MAKES PEOPLE HAVE UNCOMFORTABLE REALIZATIONS ABOUT THEMSELVES. I really dgaf about bending over backwards for the .002% whose feelings stem entirely from the time they spent with the matriarchy of the Moon People, where they learned that they felt exactly the same way no matter what.
We are saying, a woman can choose if she wants to have sex unless she is raped, or forced into sex. Some of our posts are about chosen pregnancy, so don’t assume that every single one is about “broken condoms, failed birth control, or rape.” Also, there are many options for women who are forced or raped. Like adoption, and making another family happy. We aren’t saying that every woman is effected by PTSD after their abortion, or regrets their abortion. We are just stating facts, so if you differ, your comments are appreciated, but don’t take things out of proportion.
Do you even know how fucked up and endlessly problematic the adoption system is
Hint: it’s not just some woman popping out a baby straight into the lap of some happy family
oh yeah and shut up about everything else too
I would encourage anyone with thoughts along these lines to read “The Girls Who Went Away” by Ann Fessler, and anything by Dorothy Roberts, just for starters. Adoption can be immensely traumatic and exploitative, especially when women are coerced into it rather than choosing it freely, and in fact the vast majority of women who have experienced both abortion and adoption say that adoption was the worse by far.
and really, c’mon ladies, can’t we do better than shrieking out our internalized misogyny when presented with an odd, food-centered diagram of how awesome the human body is?
imagine how different reactions…
—actually, if someone came on here and posted about being uncomfortable with sex because of a fluid squick, I would not step in and give them shit about it, primarily because it’s their body and you can’t just make people get over their sensory issues by pointing out how unenlightened they are
but people are much less likely to feel that way about things like that in my experience because those things don’t usually involve pain
—i generally do not fuck with people’s responses to physical pain and dramatic bodily upheavals
—pointing out the social forces that might be at work (which i agree are definitely a major factor in many people’s birth horror/disgust! i just think it’s ridiculous and insulting to say that those feelings are inherently misogynistic, and i would be willing to bet that even in a feminist utopia there would be still be a significant number of people with the same freakouts) is not the same as outright ridiculing people for their “aaaah, this is why i’m never having kids”
But we don’t live in a feminist utopia, and thus it is impossible to assess how grossed out someone would be in a world where childbirth and pregnancy were socially constructed in totally different ways. It’s an absurd argument. (And let’s not forget that sex DOES involve pain and fear in many cases, but sexism prevents honest discussion about how much is normal or acceptable).
You keep telling me that childbirth is innately scary and upsetting as though the social forces around it have nothing to do with that. Do you think I have no concept of what such an experience would be like for my body? I have a lot of anxiety about pregnancy. I’m epileptic, and my meds are not cleared for use during pregnancy (not enough studies! why?) I don’t like the idea of trying a parade of new drugs. I don’t like the idea of going off my meds, having a seizure, losing my driver’s license, and being at least partially reliant on public transportation, which is abysmal in my city. I have asthma and hypoglycemia; who knows who those will be affected. I have a history of depression, and know from my past in social work that it can be extremely difficult to find medical professionals who can adequately identify and treat postpartum depression. And I am really not under the impression that squeezing an 8lb melonhead through my vag is a trip to Disneyland, even though it’s the best case scenario. Those are legitimate concerns. Yet on top of all that, you want me to validate someone’s disgust of my body, of my mother’s body, of friggin’ Michelle Obama’s body, of the bodies of immigrant women. You want me to believe that I or any other woman has a responsibility to validate the nonstop parade of social messages that tell us we are bizarre and gross and horrible, as though you can’t get that elsewhere. You want to pretend it is good to let that commentary pass by without criticism, even though the majority of women will give birth and thus have to endure anxiety inflicted by spending years listening to everyone talk about what a dirty, deforming process it is. No one suggested that there are not legitimate reasons to be grossed out by certain aspects of pregnancy and childbirth. But when something is considered so horrible and wrong that people are freaking out over a picture of a goddamn stand-in bagel, not even an actual cervix, then yes, I’m going to call it internalized misogyny, and I’m going to call your repeated attempts to validate feelings the patriarchy already validates misogynistic, because it is my body you are disgusted by. We don’t live in a world of headless, birthing torsos. We don’t live in a world where we can make honest statements about what we would feel without patriarchal influences. We don’t live in a world that is filled with balancing, positive messages about this stage in life. You are begging us to excuse and accept your disgust of women’s bodies and normal physiological processes, of our bodies, to prioritize and coddle feelings that are prioritized and coddled virtually everywhere else, to the extent of being an active force of harm against women. You want us to feel like bad, meanyhead feminists because we won’t waste time patting people on the head for being horrified by what we are, or will go through, or have gone through, as though we have no idea what it’s like to be scared of our own bodies. You will not and will never get any of that here.
It’s interesting to note how Western society has pretty neatly defined who must deal with the shit, blood, and piss of society. It’s a parental role, but of course that means that it is largely the domain of women, who are overwhelmingly the primary caregivers of their own children and the children of others, as well of the elderly and disabled. It is also a role heavily linked to race and class, e.g., custodians, farmhands, slaughterhouse workers, etc. (Weirdly, animal blood and manure transcend into the touchable realm when they’re being utilized for elite pursuits, like organic gardening.) There’s also the fact that the whole process of managing these bodily wastes is highly gendered, not only in regard to obvious products like menstrual hygiene products and diapers, but also toilet paper (ever see a tp commercial that was directed at a male audience?), products for incontinence, and many first-aid products (notably excluding those aimed primarily at athletes), to name a few. There is a visible link between domesticity, womanhood, and cleaning up the little messes of life. I daresay that revulsion regarding bodily fluids, while of course rational and legitimate for many reasons, has just as much to do with the fact that being the one who must deal with the mess means that you are not the one in charge, literally or metaphorically. I don’t expect anyone to like blood, urine or feces, but I personally retain doubts that there is an even spread of fainting couch-level aversion to them across gender, racial and class lines. It’s simply not an option for some people.
and really, c’mon ladies, can’t we do better than shrieking out our internalized misogyny when presented with an odd, food-centered diagram of how awesome the human body is?
imagine how different reactions…
“It is all pain. It is blood, it is urine, it is defecation.”
p. sure those things are often horror-worthy outside a patriarchal context
as are the myriad of potential medical complications of pregnancy and birth
as is one’s body opening up wide to expel a large object, cool and superheroic as it may be
i am just saying that those are legit reasons to be disgusted (unless you’re also going to say that a lot of people’s non-pregnancy-related bodily freakouts are similarly illegitimate) and it’s shitty to be like “oh well of COURSE you couldn’t have any reasons that aren’t shallow and patriarchal and implicitly dependent on men’s opinions”
and it’s shitty to be like “oh well of COURSE you couldn’t have any reasons that aren’t shallow and patriarchal and implicitly dependent on men’s opinions”
forgive me, I thought I was still on that part of the internet where I was not compelled to pat people on the head for their magical social vacuum feelings. Kudos for the attempted derail, though.
THINK ABOUT WHY OUR IMMEDIATE RESPONSE IS ONE OF HORROR. IT’S ALMOST LIKE WE MIGHT BE INFLUENCED BY GREATER SOCIETAL FORCES OR SOME WACKY-ASS SHIT LIKE THAT, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO THE MOST GENDERED OF GENDERED ACTS, INEXTRICABLY BOUND UP WITH ISSUES OF PATRIARCHAL SUBJUGATION. Seriously, in a world where mothers get crap just for existing, much less because they represent Lovecraftian breeding horrors, I am not going to worry about whether someone is just really nervous about pooping on themselves. In fact, I’m wacky enough to suggest that challenging those feelings and demanding that their origins be examined would be vastly more beneficial in the long term. (I would also caution you to consider racial and class issues here. The repulsive pregnant body is very heavily tied up with the bodies of women of color and of immigrants. The neurotic focus on the fertility of these groups is pretty concerned with how gross and scary and animal-like these women are, compared to the fairly sanitized and pure image of wealthy, white childbirth. But I’m sure this is, like, totally unrelated and not worthy of examination, because feelings.)
Editing to add that I’m pretty sure that if someone decided to write about how semen and vaginal fluids and so forth are gross “even outside a patriarchal context”, as are orifices expanding to accommodate penetration, you would not write multiple replies asking us to consider how this is a totally legit POV that might be completely unrelated to what society tells us about sex and how we are mean girls for blithely dismissing their feelings. In the same vein, negative reactions to perfectly normal aspects of birth are not unrelated to patriarchal messages; birth just pings on your personal squickmeter. Coincidentally, the patriarchy does not benefit from reframing birth and pregnancy as positive anywhere near as much as it benefits from reframing sex, and no doubt that plays a large role in why sex is so much easier for the majority of people to talk about.