Monday, 27 April 2009

Body Image and Trafficking Links

Here are some links I found interesting.

*Some hope for healthy, realistic body images
I'm sick of hearing about Susan Boyle, too. But it ties in nicely with French Elle's piece about stars without makeup and airbrushing. And if you've ever seen Photoshop Disasters, it's something to be thankful for.

*Father of young "Slumdog Millionaire" actress tries to sell her
*Indian police end probe of "Slumdog" star's father
*Father denies Slumdog child sale
It seems there is a lot of things going on with this situation that it's hard to know what really happened at this point. Regardless, it points out the serious reality of human trafficking. Any thoughts or further links regarding this story?

Monday, 6 April 2009

Cranky Feminist is Fat and Happy

I have gained a decent amount of weight in the past few years. Probably most of it while dating my fiance. It doesn't make me happy but I have noted that I am generally more happy than when I was slimmer. This is due to a few facts. One being that my fiance doesn't make me insecure that he will leave me for someone else or that he is repulsed by my body and it's various imperfections. Another being that my fiance isn't constantly harassing me about my body and it's various imperfections. One of my exes did that constantly. He told me my thighs turned him off (but apparently my vagina didn't). He told me I should work on getting rid of my stretch marks and suggested buying cocoa butter to do so. When viewing a Special K commercial, that detailed a diet plan that included eating their cereal for two out of three meals a day, he pointed out that that could be a viable option for improving my appearance...and I was already smokin' hot (Hahaha! No really, people told me that occasionally during that time period. Just not him.).

He also wished I was more like his ex (but that's a different story) and was obsessed with porn and Jessica Alba. At that stage in my life I hated Jessica Alba, I hated how my ex treated me, but most of all I hated myself. Jessica Alba and myself were innocent parties but I chose not to blame the guilty one at that time. As a lot of abused women, I stuck with the asshole despite his clear abuse, clear disrespect, clear lack of love, clear distaste of me in general, and his clear obsession with is ex. Clearly, he did not want me but I was a mediocre substitute that he was willing to "put up with" at the time. But!

Today I am quite sure I do not fit into my ex's standards of attractiveness. And I'm glad. I don't want him to find me attractive. My fiance finds me attractive despite my cellulite. Even it's increasing volume over the past few years. I'm fatter and happier than I was in the past. In 47 days I'll be fat, happy, and wearing a pretty wedding dress that is flattering despite my girth. Fuck my ex. Fuck airbrushing. Fuck society's standards of beauty. Fuck that kind of ignorance.

I'm tired of even thinking and talking about my ex but I'm constantly reminded of his douchebaggery quite often. And it's about time I stop denying it to myself and people I know. My fiance's stunning contrast in behavior and treatment was the first thing that opened my eyes and made me stop questioning myself and my worth all the time. Hearing similar stories from other women who have gone through abuse over the years at the support groups I host and realizing that I too was abused has continued to open my eyes. It's easier to see things more clearly when you're not personally involved. And most recently, reading about how obsessive porn consumption is capable of skewing men's ideals of beauty is ringing true. And as I discovered today, Jessica Alba is probably still hotter than I am but she's far from the perfection my ex constantly rubbed in my face. I read about The Impossible Beauty of Jessica Alba on Hoyden About Town. It's a good read, I recommend it.

My ex would have a problem with the bulge circled above. There's nothing wrong with that bulge. There's nothing wrong with the picture on the left but there are people who clearly do because the image on the right is the finished product. And that finished product isn't even real. Today I don't hate Jessica Alba for being the unwilling standard of what I was supposed to look like and most importantly, I don't hate myself. I do hate my ex as I probably should have done years ago when it mattered. At least now I'm in a relationship with someone who is realistic and respectful. And at least now I am realistic and respect myself.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Network meeting - March 29th

These notes may be rubbish because I was late and therefore may not do the meeting justice.

One of our members is also a member of a fashion group and had been sent details of a new skin called ‘Raped’. This depicts a woman covered in cuts and bruises. One nipple has been cut off and the word ‘whore’ has been cut into her stomach.

The topic of this meeting was to have been a discussion on the Gorean ‘life-style’ (or should that be Second Life-style) but the sight of this skin had regenerated both disgust and anger at the depiction of such sexual violence towards women.

We are starting to feel that we really must take some action, even if it only to raise awareness or generate debate.

Some suggestions were:-
- To organise a boycott of the designer
- To repost this as ‘abuse’
- To wear the skin and demonstrate with placards

We are always faced with the dilemma of not wanting to ‘moralise’ or be seen as wishing to restrict ‘freedoms’ however also feeling angry and disgusted.

Where should the line be drawn and what should we do about it?

This issue just won’t go away.

Back on topic ... the discussion on Gor

We had all had the opportunity to read note cards about the Gor novels and about some of the ‘philosophy’ behind the role-play. One of our members knew a woman who took part.

'Let woman be a plaything, pure and fine like a precious stone illumined by the virtues of a world that does not yet exist.' Friedrich Nietzsche

This appears to be the philosophy behind the role of women in Gor:-

‘The issue is not violence but dominance and strength. Many women respond to strength and force. They like it. They want it. Most women want a man capable of mastering them. I frankly suspect that the matter is biological, and that this does lie somewhere within all women. One supposes that there is a man and a situation in which any woman could be mastered and would respond as a loving slave.To be sure, it is a universal hypothesis of a semantically non-finite scope, so it is not the sort of thing which could be conclusively tested. But even if it is not a disposition in all women, it is obviously a disposition in a great many of them, in my view the overwhelming majority of women.’

So ....the view amongst the Gor community appears to be that women are biologically ‘hard wired’ to want to be en-slaved and that this is true for the majority of women.

It was recognised that there are different levels of participation in Gor but that some of it definitely has a cult like indoctrination, or characteristics similar to abuse in a relationship.

Physical abuse is common in cults as a means of punishment. But what does it mean when there is no pain associated with "abuse" as in a virtual world?
Does that make it ok? Is it justified in SL because there is no actual pain involved even though most abused women report that emotional abuse has been worse than the physical?

It may be that people don't realize they are inflicting it in some cases because SL isn't apparently real even though there is a definite psychological process at work. A very deliberate one.

We learnt about a group which has been set up to support women who may feel they have been damaged and suffered abuse through their involvement in Gor. The group gives non-judgemental support to women who wish to end their involvement but who may need help to do so.

The group’s sim has already been the subject of retaliation.

Because of the commonly experienced feeling that the abusee is somehow made to feel that she is to blame for her abuse it is really important for women to know that Gor is abuse and it's not ok - just having it out there for women so that they know they're not crazy/alone if they want to leave.

Someone at the meeting expressed the difficulties they had in being critical about Gor and BDSM in SL because they feel that they are both degrading to women, but since they were a religious person and involved in many religious groups in SL, they were accused of moralizing and they were interested in hearing views expressed from a feminist perspective.

Some views :-

: That's a lame cop out for those arguing against you. Feminists get that in a way where we're accused of being anti-sexual.
: it's a cop out, damage is damage
: the prude argument is an old but effective one
: there are some things that are just plain wrong period
: And anti-extreme BDSM/anti-Gor isn't anti-sexy.
: I equate bdsm with our conditioning for self-hatred
: the recent article on the blog was really very good was about pornography but the principles apply to Gor too.
: these women are being conditioned to accept more than just male superiority....they are being asked to completely submit their will and agree that it's ok for them to be punished and abused if they don't behave "appropriately" submissively.
: I am getting fed up with the 'it's only role play' thing ...would it be ok if we role played being concentration camp guards?
: it's good sometimes to substitute race for gender in these arguments and see how quickly they fall apart

Then ...the discussion turned to religion (Is nothing sacred in the topics we choose?)

: ok I’m going to say something that was on my mind when I started hearing about Gor kajiras.....some here may find it offensive but I think there's an interesting parallel ..... the parallel between Kajira and nuns, the obedience and poverty thing....devoted to a "master" / "God" but without the need for celibacy. The desire to give yourself completely to something.
: That's an interesting parallel especially with the catholic idea of beautiful suffering
: Their obedience is what I find mystifying
: One of the note cards mentioned RL Gor lifestyles who teach that to their children.
: but don't we all have to be obedient to men as the dominant/oppressor class in our everyday lives, at least to some extent?
:but kajiri give their lives to some douche bag for no reason
:I was raised Catholic. I always wondered about nuns and their vows which is why I drew the parallel when I started considering the choice of the Kajiras
: It's all a way of justifying group/forced sex but with some of the guilt removed so I can see why it might appeal to people with a religious faith
: one would find Gor so at odds with what their faith teaches about dignity and respect for others that they would not be able to reconcile it. I'm a Christian and Jesus did not teach that it was good to beat the crap out of women
: but Christianity teaches that men are superior to women
: the church teaches inherent male superiority...I don't believe Jesus ever really saw it that way
: he may have done ...however the established church has hardly encouraged women to express their sexuality. It's my view that many of the world’s churches have been concerned with controlling women.
: I’m with you on that. I admire some people who practice their faith respectfully but religious institutions are patriarchal and work largely to keep women under their control.
: that kind of brings us back to Gor as cult
: Yeah, it definitely seems like a lot of the recruiting practices are like those of a cult.
: seems to me the Gor people are reaching back to what the men see as a "simpler" time LOL when women weren't so damn pesky about their rights

Anyway .... I shouldn’t just cut and paste the chat .... to get these gems and to contribute to the debate you should really come to the meetings :)

Zoe P