- me: It's shocking how much can be explained by that post on tumblr comparing sex to consuming dessert.
- Dee: Well, yeah. It works well for sexuality - you don't have to always have one dessert, and you can say other people's food looks delicious even if you aren't currently having it.
- me: yup, and you can find everything delicious, or nothing, and you can find something appetizing without having tried it, and you can try something and then decide that you don't like it in general, or just that particular batch.
- me: oh and you can decide not to consume certain things that go against your moral code, and you can fast sometimes if you want.
- Dee: It works for virginity as well, actually.
- me: huh? how? virginity's a ridiculous construct.
- Dee: Exactly! In the dessert analogy, virginity is like being a person who has never eaten pie, or a "pie virgin". I think this indicates how silly it is.
- me: ...
- Dee: People may ask "if I just had one bite of pie, or if someone made me eat pie, am I still a pie virgin?"
- Dee: The proper answer is "that's not something you should worry about, because the concept of 'pie virgin' is silly"!
- me: god, I love you.
- me: oh! and it doesn't matter who introduces you to pie, and whether that's a good or bad memory, doesn't need to impact whether you like pie now, and how much you eat of it. But it might, it might be a trigger, and that's also ok.
some religious reasons for abstinence, and why they’re a problem
There’s nothing wrong with saving yourself for marriage, but there’s a ton wrong with the arguments that try to enforce this moral code on people. Here’s a list I just got linked which is quite like the stuff I’ve been told in church, and my comments about why it’s problematic.
1. Sex is a powerful force that can destroy if not used properly. Like atomic power, sex is the most powerful creative force given to man. When atomic power is used correctly it can create boundless energy; when it is used in the wrong way it destroys life. Sex is the same kind of powerful force. Sex is a gift from God to give us the greatest pleasure, to help in creating a deep companionship with one’s spouse and for procreation of the next generation. But if you play with this powerful force outside the bounds of marriage, it destroys you and those close to you.
No, you didn’t read this wrong: this person compared extramarital sex to nuclear bombs. And, you know, sex within marriage is like nuclear power plants: waste that is really hard to dispose of, and they sometimes go horribly wrong and pollute the surrounding area. Oh, and it’s banned in New Zealand. (Sorry, I really can’t take this point seriously at all.)
2. Sexual activity for young people arrests their psychological, social and academic development. Studies show that when young people engage in premarital sex, their academic performance declines and their social relationships with family and friends deteriorate. This is because adolescents are too immature to deal with the explosive sex drive and it tends to dominate their life.
How about considering the way family, friends, and teachers treat adolescents who are known to be sexually active (or even meet the stereotype)? Might that possibly affect their grades and relationships? I think so. How about the sexualization of our youth in the media and the lack of decent sex ed combining to make sexual experiences as a young person full of misconceptions and more likely to end badly? Might that have something to do with it? And, more annoyingly, I’ve been called “mature” many a time for (appearing to) remain chaste: if maturity is about not having sex, because I’m too immature to have sex, then, uh, well, that makes very little sense.
3. The majority of women cannot enjoy sex outside of the bonds of marriage. The development of a fulfilling sex life needs the security and peace of the marriage bond. Premarital sex usually takes place sneaking around in hidden places dealing with the fear of being caught, the fear of pregnancy and feelings of guilt. All these (worrisome) factors undermine pleasure in premarital sex, most especially for women.
Wow. This struck me speechless when I first read it. You’re going to use what the (primarily religious conservative elements of) the patriarchy have imposed on women in terms of gender roles and the repression of sexuality as another reason they should only have sex in a very specific role? Fuck you.
4. Virginity is to be given to the most important person in your life, the person you committed yourself to stay with forever in marriage. Your virginity is the most precious thing you have to give to your spouse. Once you lose it, nothing in the world can bring it back. Don’t lose something so precious in a thoughtless way.
This is the sort of thing that gets people like me who were sexually abused children growing up in the church saddled with lifelong anxiety and depression. I’m very, very sure that my, oh, personality or my love has been what’s most precious to the people I’ve been involved with, not the existence of my metaphorical cherry.
Also. So what happens if you go wrong? If, by choice or otherwise, you aren’t a virgin, and you’re a Christian teenager? Is there any point in getting married? In not sleeping around? Seemingly, the first sexual experience of your life was the most important and the most precious, and that’s really problematic for the thousands and thousands of us for whom it was nothing of the sort. The church has a tendency to assume that Christians both: a) never get raped/abused/etc and b) the ones who suffered the most have the strongest faiths for it. Both notions are bullshit.
5. Those who engage in premarital sex run a high risk of contracting one of the many venereal diseases rampant today, as well as losing their fertility. Not just AIDS, but other common disfiguring diseases like herpes have no cure.
Oh, right, only if you haven’t been educated about it. I’d say that there’s more chance of someone who has received abstinence-only sex education catching an STD, within marriage or otherwise (cause how will you know if your partner has one?), than a promiscuous person who practises safe sex and knows what they’re doing. Also, plenty of venereal diseases don’t have to be passed via sex.
6. Some venereal diseases have no symptoms and many couples discover many years later that they became infertile because of these diseases. Infertility experts estimate that 80% of today’s infertility is due to venereal diseases contracted before they married.
See above point. Also, what if you don’t want kids? Or can’t have them anyway?
7. The best and only method that guarantees 100% against AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases is to wait for marriage to have sex and maintain fidelity in your marriage.
Uh, only if your partner does the same, and doesn’t ever lie to you about it.
8. Premarital sex breaks the 10 Commandments given by God. The 10 Commandments are given to man by God to make man happy. They are not outdated and they are not restrictive. If we follow these laws, we can create happy and prosperous lives. If we don’t follow them, we will pay a heavy price in divorce, disease, abortions, illegitimate children and loneliness. Modern men make a big mistake when they think that they can break these eternal laws and not suffer consequences.
Let’s check the Ten Commandments out. Worship only one God, no idols, don’t take God’s name in vain, keep the Sabbath, respect your folks, don’t kill, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness or covet. Where in that does it say “don’t have sex before marriage”? Seriously?
9. Premarital sex runs the risk of conceiving illegitimate children. Numerous scientific studies show that the children of single mothers suffer psychologically and are less successful socially and academically than children from intact families. Above all, children need both their father and their mother. It is wrong to risk having children who will never have their father’s love, protection and care.
One word, or rather, three letters: IUD. Or, you know, any other form of contraception, but that one is spectacularly effective and works both long-term and as emergency contraception. There are ways or preventing there being a likelihood of pregnancy, it’s not a done thing. Further, kids aren’t always wanted within marriage or unwanted outside it. Also, again, might it be possible that part of the reason these kids suffer is social stigma? I think so. And I don’t see you fervently advocating quick remarriage in the case of people being widowed, so don’t talk about the “both father and mother” stuff. More importantly, though, plenty of illegitimate children are still loved and cherished by both parents. If marriage is all that’s keeping you from ditching your kids, you’re a sorry excuse for a person.
10. If you date and you don’t have sex, you can forget about that relationship when you stop dating. But if you have sex with those you date and then break up, the nature of sexual involvement creates strong, often unpleasant memories for your whole life. Every relationship you break up where you had intimate relations is like a mini-divorce. The psychological difficulties of these mini-divorces does damage to your character. Later, when you are married and go to bed with your beloved spouse, these unpleasant memories will accompany you.
I’d say I’ve done myself more harm wondering about the people who I haven’t engaged with than the ones who’ve turned out to be really really hilariously bad at it. Also, I dare you to go tell all the people who’ve broken up without having sex that they can just “forget about it”.
Also, the “mini-divorce” thing is really entertaining. If I get married and have sex with my partner, I’ll only have “unpleasant” memories of past sexual encounters if said partner turns out to actually be worse than them. Also, I resent the idea that divorce is only ever a horrible crushing thing. For many women I know, it meant freedom.
This is something I told a fundamentalist friend the other day, in a moment of vulnerability: I don’t want to get married because it’s a leash. It’s a piece of paper which strips me of easy escape if someone I love and who knows my vulnerable points decides to use those against me. It’s the same reason I anticipated my eighteenth birthday long before I was even seventeen, because emancipation.
I won’t love my life partners any less for not wanting to be legally married. Being a minor was suffocating, and I imagine being married would be the same, simply because of what I’ve been through. And if I were to get into something which was exactly like a marriage save for the bit of paper, would it magically be A Bad Thing because God abides by modern New Zealand law for some strange reason in judging the faithfulness of his servants or something? Doesn’t he look at the heart?
Wouldn’t it be an even greater testament of love and commitment for two people who weren’t legally tied together to stay together for years nevertheless?
I have no problem with people choosing abstinence for themselves, but a major problem with fallacious reasoning and/or moralistic judgement of others by standards that you hold true for yourself. Don’t like sex before marriage? Don’t have it. That’s all.
I Quit Gender
The past few months have been really difficult for me in terms of gender identity and expression. I’ve been so conflicted on how I view my own body, how I view gender in general, and how my relation to gender informs my sexual identity as a whole. (Oh god, this sounds like the start to a thesis paper….)
I’ve always identified as a woman. Mostly because I did not know there were any other options. I knew there were woman, and that there were men; I knew that there were transgender individuals, and some people accused of being women are actually men, and vice-versa. But I do not feel like a man. So, as I did not feel like a man, I had to be a woman. If not column a then column b, right? Right.
So I continued on. About a year ago (in early March of 2012), I discovered I was asexual. This more of less calmed my nerves regarding my sexual orientation: I am an asexual individual who is capable of romantic attachment to men, women, and all gender. I really just like people, to be honest, and want someone to love based on personality and emotional connection. I just want a companion to care about, and to be cared for in return—and I never saw how sex or gender played any part in emotion. I never considered bodies to be that important—which was never an issue, as I did not want to touch them. Out of sight, out of mind, I guess works best for me.
As I became involved in the asexual community on tumblr, I discovered that there is a large gender community as well, filled with a variety of trans* and non-binary identities. This fascinated me. Since I was never really concerned with gender, the idea of it being more dynamic and diverse than I assumed was interesting. Made more sense, really; making gender something less concerete and more interpretive to the individual made sense. So I lurked around some blogs, made some graphics, carried on.
But as I learned about gender, I found my own relation to it changing. I found myself letting go of all connections to womanhood. I would look at pictures of attractive men, and would find myself thinking, “Wow. I wish I had that hair,” “Wow, I really love that suit…,” “I wish I could grow a beard,” and so on. And rather than passing over my thoughts, I’ve found myself accepting them and making them real.
I cut off all my hair. I shaved most of it off, and slicked the rest. When my hairdresser asked if I wanted a feminine version of the masculine cut I brought in, I replied, “No. I want that exact cut.” And she just smiled, and said it would look great on me. And it totally does.
I got a new wardrobe. I have a lot of collared shirts now; in fact, I only wear collared shirts. I have a nice pair of wing-tips (they aren’t vegan, but shh, don’t tell anyone). I have a wide selection of bow ties. The director of the design department at my school likes to comment that, on the days that I don’t wear a tie, I am “breaking the dress code”; coming from a man who wears t-shirts and jeans everyday, it’s amusing, and, in a way, a silent nod of acceptance to my expression. He acknowledges my masculine expression, and accepts it. It’s non-confrontational. It’s nice.
I have small breasts, but I got myself a sports bra (my mother’s idea, actually). The tight elastic keeps my b-cups flat. I think it makes my dress-shirts fall better. I like it.
After a few months of letting my holds on gender go, I find myself looking exactly how I want. I finally look how I have always wanted.
But finding the words to describe my gender were a lot harder to come by. I look at my identity, and instantly I thought, “You’re masculine. You have a masculine identity. So you’re a man, right?” But, no, that’s not right. While I flatten out my boobs and, quite frankly, wish them gone, I accept my body. I would, actually, refer to my body as being female. For me, the word “female” simply means I have a vagina. I don’t really have a purpose for my vagina—I don’t want kids, and am non-sexual—but I accept that it’s a part of me. It’s simple a piece of anatomy given to me unwillingly, like a crappy sweater. So I am a female. But, looking at my expression, and thinking about how I view it… I find myself not feeling like a woman.
I’m not a woman. But, when forced to talk about my body, I use the word female. Which made me realize: My vagina does not get to control my gender. Like I said, I accept my vagina as a part that just exists; I don’t love it, but I have it. So it’s fine. Whatever, vagina. If you want to go away, I would greatly appreciate it. But, as I don’t view that as happening, just hang out and stay out of my way. Thanks, vagina, you’re a bro.
I use female to mean, in my case, “VAGINA OWNER.” Nothing more, nothing less. But my gender is so, SO much more than my body. My gender, for me, is what I put on my body, how I present and view myself. Which is not feminine, or womanly, or lady-like, in any stretch of the imagination. I look like a damn man! I wear “man clothes!” I HAVE A TIE COLLECTION, FOR GOD’S SAKE.
But I am not a man. I simply like things people tend to associate with men. But I’m miles away from ever thinking of myself as a woman.
A few days it dawned on me: I am neither.
There is no gender which describes me properly.
My gender is no.
I am exempting myself from gender. I refer to my body as female. I wear things people associate with men. I am neutral in appearance But there is no gender which accurate describes how I feel about myself. I’ve noticed some people on tumblr using the word agender. If you need a word to describe me, I’ve accepted that this is it. And, for me, agender means I am exempting myself from gender as a whole.
So I am agender, or genderless. And it’s a relief. I feel free from a binary that has never served me well. Now, rather than attempting to cram myself into the gender arena, I feel confident in myself enough to say, “Y’know what, this isn’t working for me. I’m not playing this game. Good bye.” Gender has never worked for me, and now I quit it. I quit gender as if it was a crappy part-time job. Now I am free to pursue the fulltime, high-paying career I have always wanted, one with my own office and a secretary who brings me tea three times a day.I am attempting to remove gender from my life, and, really, allow myself to revert to a more natural state: a state of neutrality. I am coming to terms with the fact that I can view my identity in a way others may not even consider. I am accepting the fact that I can say, “This simply does not work for me.” I don’t need to go on the boy’s team or the girl’s team if neither suit me. I was never one for team sports, anyway.
I don’t care about pronouns; honestly, I would prefer if people just used my name, but, really, feminine pronouns just seem to be the default; an unnecessary and cis-centered default, but it’s not really that important to me. I don’t know if I would change my body with surgery—I would like to, but we will see what comes with time. I am strongly considering changing my name. Something more neutral; I have a few ideas. I don’t know if I would go through with a legal change, but it has been on my mind recently.There are a lot of things left to figure out in terms of what I want to do about my lack-of-gender. But now I accept it, and am glad to let go of a binary which has been holding me back.
I am asexual. I love people. I don’t have sex. I am genderless. I know so many people view this as an attempt to be “special,” or an attempt to “become queer.” But, god, it is who I am. And it might be opening myself up for attack, but I cannot live in fear of people sending me hate anymore, or people calling me names, or insulting my lifestyle.
I don’t know what is next for me, but I can guarantee I will be more honestly and accepting of who I truly am. And that is a step in the right direction.
Reblogging this here, because Carly’s as usual more eloquent than most people manage to be, and also because it reflects what, for me, has been a similarly climactic self-discovery within the span of about a year. It happens, and it’s not to be scorned: we learn things, and then they just… fit.
Also, the last two paragraphs. Wow. Yes. We’re not trying to be special, it’s just who we are, and fuck you if you’re going to stand in our way. We’re just moving towards the people we want to be.
Here is a brief guide to some of the important things you never learned about in sex ed.
- Debunking myths about anatomy
- Brief overview of sexuality and gender (More complex version here)
- Slut-shaming and consent
- Various types of birth control (with at least 95% effectiveness)
- Sex toys
Ebook for sharing is [HERE] (I’m sorry I just really love making ebooks…)
Useful and highly recommended brief guide to everything.
A guide to being an ally for friends and family of LGBT*QIA individuals.
Online ebook available [HERE] if you would like to share with others but do not wish to link to your tumblr. (Also, it’s fun to turn the pages.)
Original size 20x24” posters available for educational purposes. Contact me directly for files.
Here are 3 of the most common arguments I have heard for fighting against the addition of more sexuality labels. And why I think they are silly.
There are many more arguments. Always more arguments. Maybe I’ll get around to those, too.
[As always, let me know if you would like the original 20x24” files for awareness and education.]
Anonymous asked genderfluidity:
Hi, I just now came across this page and wanted to ask. I’ve always been confused. I’m not straight, not bi, not gay. I am an 18yr old girl and dress like one, but occasionally I’ll pull my hair back and dress in guy clothes. It’s comfortable for me. Other days I’ll dress as a girl and feel great. I’m attracted to guys and girls, and even have a boyfriend that I have talked to about this and he feels the same way just opposite.I guess I’m just asking what you think I could be..=/
Don’t feel bad about being confused - we get lots of questions like this, and rest be assured you’re not the only one who feels this way. I can’t however tell you what gender(s) I think you are with the information you’ve given me; instead, I’ll try my best to clarify some things which may help you figure things out.
I’m not straight, not bi, not gay…I’m attracted to guys and girls
Sexual orientation doesn’t define your gender! I’m queer, and I’m attracted to all genders, but so is my agender partner, and so are many cis men and women. (However, seeing as you say you are not bisexual: are you attracted to genders other than male and female? If so, and if you’re seeking an identification for your sexuality, you could try pansexual or polysexual on for size. I prefer just “queer” because it’s a catch-all for non-straight people and I identify as non-straight more than anything else.)
occasionally I’ll pull my hair back and dress in guy clothes.
Dressing in a way more typical of the opposite gender also doesn’t define your gender. A friend I used to have was 100% cis and hetero, but the biggest tomboy in presentation and behaviour I’ve ever met. (We stopped being friends because she’s a fundamentalist religious type and kinda disapproves of me not being cis and hetero.) If you feel like “an 18yr old girl” is who you are and not just who society says you are, then don’t feel like you need to justify your desire to dress or behave differently with gender identity, because you don’t need an excuse to be you and live the life you want to!
However, if you feel that these factors are part of an expression of an underlying gender identity but still aren’t sure what that might be, I have a few recommendations:
- Read lots! There are plenty of tumblr blogs about gender identity, but Wikipedia and other more specific resources for trans* and non-binary people are also very useful. I came across genderfluidity on accident and it just clicked. That happens for many of us, but others grow into an identity.
- Bear in mind that gender identity can change over a lifetime. As a child, I identified as male when I was actually thinking about gender, being basically neutral otherwise as many children are; when I became old enough and religious enough to realize that was a problem, I promptly tried to be as cis as humanly possible. Now I’m genderfluid and it fits, but I won’t be upset or feel like I’ve been living a lie if one day in the future I find that this identity doesn’t fit any longer. I’ll just try others on for size!
- Don’t feel that you’re a fraud of a non-binary person if you slip into “girl” roles too easily. It’s difficult to not be someone who you’ve been told you are all your life, or at least pretend to be. Besides, how you behave or how you’re read has nothing to do with your gender identity! Many of the days when I’m read as “super girly” I’m actually most distinctly feeling like a very queer male, and that’s a very different femininity for me but looks the same to everyone else.
Good luck on your gender journey! I’ll leave you with a quote by André Gide: ”One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.” Exploring gender identity means you’ll have to let go of the ideas you already have about gender and gender roles, ideas you’ve probably had for a very long time, and that everyone around you also has. It means a lot of checking yourself when you say or think binary-supporting or cisnormative stuff, especially at first. But you’ll get there, and be happier for it - and the other trans* people around you will be too!
Just reblogging something I posted over at the genderfluidity tumblr because it’s pretty indicative of my general take on gender identity etc.
So I decided it was getting frustrating trying to explain me to people, so I annotated a genderbread man from here. I figure I’ll just link people to this next time.
My default state is just not feeling that gender is even a thing (agender), or wanting to be simultaneously male and female (androgyny, I guess) but some days I’m definitely 100% female (and once in a while I have a day or two where I get dysphoric over not having a penis and want to cut my uterus out). I figure the only way to describe that is genderfluid; my gender changes. It doesn’t change who I am at that second, and really you can just address me with any pronoun (except “it”) at any point. Just don’t call me a woman; I don’t like that word. Not sure why.
Some days, as you no doubt would know if you know me in person, I’m undeniably presenting as female. Sometimes I do drop my voice and speak from my chest, and express in a more typically male way. But mostly I go for androgyny: either in genderless dressing (flannel shirt and jeans, anyone?) or in mixing gendered cues.
I was assigned female at birth.
Welp, this might take a little explaining. I’m more romantically attracted to guys, or to masculinity in any gender really, but a little more sexually attracted to femininity. Also, trans* people (and anyone else who doesn’t present as gender-conforming) just really…hot damn, man, they tick all the boxes.
Anyway. In general I don’t get romantically attached very easily at all (to do with the fact that I just don’t do emotion a lot of the time, and don’t often choose to let myself into a relatively vulnerable situation.) Comfortable with my sexuality, but thus far I haven’t tended to have sex outside committed relationships, since the amount of sexual baggage I’m still dealing with is a bit unfair to offload on anyone else. Oh, and I’m also polyamorous, which means that I can have multiple committed relationships at one point, with everyone involved having full knowledge of course.
Okay, that’s all my explaining in one diagram! For more info on each of these scales, there’s a bit more explaining at the first genderbread diagram. Neither is quite accurate, but it’s useful. I feel that gender and all the other things are quiiite a lot more complicated than can be represented, but this is as close to making sense out of it as I can get.