Neesha Meminger: “This is a question I’ve often pondered myself. I think my main concern with the “mean girls” phenomenon is that they focus on inter-personal dynamics without also looking at the larger, social,
economic, and political constructs within which we all function. In the case of books, films, television shows, and other mean girls representations, certain isolated incidents are used to somehow prove that *everyone* can be abusive and that violence is a natural and intrinsic part of human nature; without any consideration of the power imbalances at play.
For instance, yes there are mean girls. Of course girls in high school (and middle school and grade school) can be horribly cruel to one another. Girls can absolutely be bullies. Girls beat one another up and can be downright
vicious to those who are perceived to be “different” or “weaker.” Whenever this issue is raised, I am reminded of the 1996 case of Reena Virk, the Indian, Punjabi teen who was murdered by a gang of mostly girls in British
Columbia, Canada. She was viciously attacked by girls she had desperately wanted to be friends with.
The media responded to this horrific tragedy by labeling it as “girl violence” or the “rise of girl gangs.” The whole focus was on the fact that the group of teens who beat Virk to death were mostly girls. There was no race analysis, no class analysis, and absolutely no mention of enforced hetero-normativity (for a great, non-mainstream analysis of that case, see Yasmin Jiwani’s essays as well as Sheila Batacharya’s).MORE
First rule of nutrition: eat or die.
Second rule of nutrition: there are no other rules.MORE
Normal eating is going to the table hungry and eating until you are satisfied. It is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it—not just stop eating because you think you should.
Normal eating is being able to give some thought to your food selection so you get nutritious food, but not being so wary and restrictive that you miss out on enjoyable food.
Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad or bored, or just because it feels good.
Normal eating is mostly three meals a day, or four or five, or it can be choosing to munch along the way. It is leaving some cookies on the plate because you know you can have some again tomorrow, or it is eating more now because they taste so wonderful.
Normal eating is overeating at times, feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. And it can be undereating at times and wishing you had more.MORE
Now, when you were thinking about disability access, you probably thought of transcripts and ramps and disabled bathrooms. And those things are important. But did you think about invisible access for invisible disabilities? Where well-known accessibility measures like those transcripts, ramps and bathrooms are often not available (or not properly) the measures that don’t immediately spring to an abled person’s mind don’t have a hope in hell.* And, speaking as someone with an invisible chronic illness, having to out myself in order to perhaps be granted access, with the very real possibility of not being believed, is one of the most unpleasant parts of my life.** I doubt you thought about access to services for people who aren’t accessing them in person. I doubt you’ve ever thought about how to give directions without visual reference. In fact, I bet most of the things you thought of were those that were in your face.
Which brings me to my next point. Accessibility is not just about alternatives and gadgets and adaptations. It’s about you.*** It’s about all the abled people who are in charge of accessibility measures. And that’s not just those of you in a position of authority, that’s you making your way down the street. Remember, you often don’t know who is and who isn’t a PWD, and you don’t know the kind of impact you’re having on them. The world is designed to suit the abled, and it’s every last one of you impacting us. It’s about your attitudes making our lives harder. (Did you ever consider how awful it is to have a loud, public discussion of one’s needs? Did you ever consider that forcing your idea of help on us might be detrimental? Did you consider the kind of devastation you privileging your perceptions over our experiences can lead to?****) It’s about whether you decide our enjoyment, our livelihoods, our life experiences and our humanity are worth your attention.MORE
Talking about the intersection of asexuality and disability is pretty difficult, because “asexuality” gets another meaning in disability rights discourse: it’s used to refer to the various stereotypes about disabled people’s sexualities. People do often seem to realise that this is problematic when it’s pointed out to them. However, what not so many people realise off the bat is that it goes beyond just “problematic”.
The stereotypes in question actually consist of a wide variety of things tossed together, some of which are in line with asexuality but many of which seem to have little to do with asexuality or in fact to be entirely opposed to it (I am interested to see how the stereotype of the disabled woman not saying no because she feels lucky anyone wants her is supposed to relate to asexuality, for instance). What they have in common, however, seems to be: denying disabled people their sexual agency and the right to make decisions or have knowledge about their own bodies and sexualities. The stereotypes about disabled people’s sexualities seem quite in line with the common tendency to consider us childlike, helpless and needing to be protected for our own good.
Asexual adults? Are not children. Nor do we (or, at least, should we) lack agency. In fact, the very existence of the asexual movement shows that we are in opposition to a lot of these ideas! We’re organising, we’re campaigning, we’re demanding that our sexual identity should be recognised and considered valid; disabled people are stereotyped to not have a sexual identity at all. (There is a distinction between the lack of a sexual orientation and a sexual orientation incorporating lack of sexual attraction that most people miss, but that is crucially important in this context.) Taking all the stereotypes disabled people get hit with regarding sex and sexuality and claiming that they all boil down to making them like asexual people? Like me? Is something I actually find really offensive.
An example: the desexualisation of disabled people often gets used to justify giving them less extensive sex ed or no sex ed at all compared to abled people. However, saying this is because they’re stereotyped as asexual entirely misses the fact that – asexual people need sex ed too!MORE
IMPORTANT: Read this first. This post will be talking about the impact of the rape culture on the asexuality community and will be based on the y’know fact that rape and coercion towards sex are as common as they are in reality. This means if you desire to spend the comment thread whining about how rape isn’t all that common or other rape apologist lies, your comment will never make it.
Okay, that out of the way, this post has been a long time in the coming. I’ve been wanting to talk more about asexuality and this is an issue that has been bugging me for years now. There has been a long conversation in the community and outside of it on the question of “Are Asexuals Oppressed?” Rather, do asexuals face discrimination or the effects of bigotry yet?
And well, the answer is no big surprise. No, there is not much of an active resistance to asexuality because the bigots don’t really know we exist and most resistance we do get is from assumptions or presentations within the LGBTQ community (assumed to be gay because of lack of interest in opposite sex, assumed to be gay by same-sex relationship or strong friendship, seen as trans or intersex or genderqueer by presentation, etc…).
And well, I have little to say about that. It’s a disgrace, it should be amended and conversations with psychologists have been mostly positive, but the narrow focus has allowed a far more subtle and interconnected problem to receive little to no acknowledgment.
That problem is how asexuals are exceptionally prone to the outskirts of the rape culture when they interact with and date sexuals. This is especially true of romantic asexuals.
Now what I mean by this is not that they are especially prone to forcible rape and the types of rape we most focus on when discussing rape, though these occur far too often and can affect asexuals just as much as sexuals.
What I mean are coercive rapes. Those where one’s autonomy and free choice is put to intense pressure and manipulation in order to force a technical consent, which is nowhere near the gold standard of mutual enthusiastic consent or informed consent. This can occur in many forms
Rape culture is treating straight sexuality as the norm. Rape culture is lumping queer sexuality into nonconsensual sexual practices like pedophilia and bestiality. Rape culture is privileging heterosexuality because ubiquitous imagery of two adults of the same-sex engaging in egalitarian partnerships without gender-based dominance and submission undermines (erroneous) biological rationales for the rape culture’s existence.
Rape culture is rape being used as a weapon, a tool of war and genocide and oppression. Rape culture is rape being used as a corrective to “cure” queer women. Rape culture is a militarized culture and “the natural product of all wars, everywhere, at all times, in all forms.”
Rape culture is 1 in 33 men being sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. Rape culture is encouraging men to use the language of rape to establish dominance over one another (“I’ll make you my bitch”). Rape culture is making rape a ubiquitous part of male-exclusive bonding. Rape culture is ignoring the cavernous need for men’s prison reform in part because the threat of being raped in prison is considered an acceptable deterrent to committing crime, and the threat only works if actual men are actually being raped.
Rape culture is 1 in 6 women being sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. Rape culture is not even talking about the reality that many women are sexually assaulted multiple times in their lives. Rape culture is the way in which the constant threat of sexual assault affects women’s daily movements. Rape culture is telling girls and women to be careful about what you wear, how you wear it, how you carry yourself, where you walk, when you walk there, with whom you walk, whom you trust, what you do, where you do it, with whom you do it, what you drink, how much you drink, whether you make eye contact, if you’re alone, if you’re with a stranger, if you’re in a group, if you’re in a group of strangers, if it’s dark, if the area is unfamiliar, if you’re carrying something, how you carry it, what kind of shoes you’re wearing in case you have to run, what kind of purse you carry, what jewelry you wear, what time it is, what street it is, what environment it is, how many people you sleep with, what kind of people you sleep with, who your friends are, to whom you give your number, who’s around when the delivery guy comes, to get an apartment where you can see who’s at the door before they can see you, to check before you open the door to the delivery guy, to own a dog or a dog-sound-making machine, to get a roommate, to take self-defense, to always be alert always pay attention always watch your back always be aware of your surroundings and never let your guard down for a moment lest you be sexually assaulted and if you are and didn’t follow all the rules it’s your fault.MORE