Buried Alive


Orientation by pisaquaririse
August 17, 2009, 2:44 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

One of the BIG reasons I no longer believe in, or support the idea of,  sexual orientation has to do with our relationships to others’ body parts.  In most cases, to have a sexual orientation, is to have fetishized genitalia (or preference, one prefers [part]).

That’s ew.  Not because bodies are ew but because that creepy creepy preoccupation with others’ parts is (bodies are neither hawt nor ew, geddit?). Though I understand the reasoning behind using genitalia as a marker for certain kinds of socialization–hence not dating males because the chances they are sexist assholes is simply too HIGH– using genitalia as a visual marker for arousal or appeal is a fetishizing act and does not differ you in any way from another amateur pornographer:

Why must these vulgar specimens insist on its unique “beauty” when, in fact, a vulva is precisely as “beautiful” as an elbow or a nostril?

Precisely-ism.

Note: the comeback tour is on indefinite hiatus.


73 Comments so far
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Ah, Pisaquari, thank you for every word of this. xoxoxo Mary

Comment by Mary Sunshine

You are most welcome Mary. :)

Comment by pisaquaririse

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Your belief and support do not matter. The phenomenon has an existence outside the confines of your desires. You can choose to ignore it. You can choose to stick your fingers in your ears and scream “La-la-la I can’t hear you!!!” People will continue to have desires which do not conform to your tiny notions of propriety.

They will still like pussy or cock. They will still be turned on by the sight and smell of male bodies, female bodies or both. Our minds are not as neatly ordered as you would prefer. They are messy, chaotic places. And that goes double or triple when we’re talking about sex.

The world is at it is and does as it does even if theory says it should be otherwise. Sorry to disappoint you, child.

Comment by A. Nuran

A. Nuran, your defeatist stance is too mainstream for this blog. The sum total of “Things are the way they are” has more theory tangled in it than you can imagine.
Also: using “child” as an insult is ageist. It’s also quite mainstream to be ageist.. There are 1567263445 blogs on the net *right now* that would better suit you.

Comment by pisaquaririse

I agree completely. In fact, this states clearly something I always assumed to be true. Thank you. (Also probably explains why I can’t really wrap my head around the idea of “a fetish”, as distinct from “normal sexuality”.)

Using genital state as a visual marker for arousal, though, makes sense, correct? — That is, genitalia display the presence or absence of an aroused state. This is is itself arousing to the viewer, just as flushed cheeks and lips are, or lordosis posture, because we are imitative monkeys and generally find another’s arousal sexually appealing, if we are suitably disposed to them in the first place.

Comment by octopod

Welcome octopod.

“Using genital state as a visual marker for arousal, though, makes sense, correct? — That is, genitalia display the presence or absence of an aroused state.”

I meant, as a general note, using genitalia as a trigger (or being conditioned enough that it becomes a trigger) for one’s own sexual arousal. I’m sure some may be aroused by the sight of aroused state but I certainly don’t think it’s a general rule or innate.

Which is why I separate your comment in two parts:
“This is is itself arousing to the viewer, just as flushed cheeks and lips are, or lordosis posture, because we are imitative monkeys”

Imitative monkeys? Could you explain this?

As well, my cheeks flush when I’m embarrassed, mad, exercising, feverish–really nothing at all to do with my interest in sex so I certainly hope no one is using this as a marker (and yet they do!). (and what do flushed lips looks like? As in, significantly discernable?)

My point is, these *signs* of arousal have such different origins and meanings that defining them in innate or evolutionary terms never seems to account for said differences.

I’m glad this have provided clarity for you!

Comment by pisaquaririse

Regarding the “imitative” thing, I meant that we tend to derive social reqard from imitating others’ behaviour and having our own behaviour imitated by them. You see this when you watch the interaction of two people who are generally simpatico, for instance (relevantly) two people on a date which is going well: they tend to imitate each other’s body language quite closely.

I certainly didn’t mean that flushed cheeks by themselves were sufficient markers of sexual arousal; they’re part of the set, but, as you say, can come from many other factors. (And by “flushed lips” I mean increased blood flow and redness to the lips, if that helps.) Rather, that we have a certain set of physical signals which indicate sexual interest to a potential partner, and we look for those same signals in that potential partner.

For that matter, I’d guess we are somewhat alert to the same signals in people in whom we’re not sexually interested. Except in that case, it would be something of which to be cautious, rather than an encouragement!

I agree that most such things don’t account for differences,

Comment by octopod

This is a really important complication to add to the discussion because it challenges the bio-determinism of transphobia. Sexual orientation can only fetishize certain genitals if those genitals are the marker of gender. While some woman are told “I just think your pussy is hawt!” there are lots of woman who are told that their penises or intersexed genitals are sick and wrong. This problem you point out about sexual orientation becomes way less offensive when it is actually about gender, which is not about genitals.

At the same time, I would not say that the fetishizing of genitals is a simple, universal thing, because sexualized power is not simple nor universal. A man fetishizing a woman’s genitals is not the same thing as two queer women fetishizing each other’s genitals. But it isn’t just about gendered power — a white woman fetishizing her black partner’s penis is a perpetuation of sexualized racism.

I’m wondering if you would problematize sexual orientation in the positive as well as the negative. Taking into account intersections of privilege like the ones above, it the same thing to say “I really love my partner’s genitals” as it is to say “I really hate those people’s genitals who I’m not attracted to”? Also, is it the same thing to say “I love my partner’s genitals” as it is to say “I love my partner’s sexed/gendered body,” which would include much more than their genitals, but still be kind of fetishizing?

Comment by Tupe

Welcome Tupe.

“At the same time, I would not say that the fetishizing of genitals is a simple”

Not simple in it’s many manifestations, no, but I *do* think, simply, it is always wrong or has no positive net effect ever.

“it the same thing to say “I really love my partner’s genitals” as it is to say “I really hate those people’s genitals who I’m not attracted to”?”

To make sure these questions are rooted in the same footing I would have to ask you why you loved/hated the genitalia–my answer likely to follow.

“is it the same thing to say “I love my partner’s genitals” as it is to say “I love my partner’s sexed/gendered body,” ”

Well, I would presume they are the same and, if challenged, be very interested in how someone would parse out the differences.

Ultimately, and something I’m likely to have to repeat, I think our genitalia and bodies are unique (yet similar) topographies of skins and folds and fat and function. Interesting and intriguing, perhaps, because there is still so much to learn about them, but no innate reason to be so caught up with, say, “T&A” or vulvas and penises.

Comment by pisaquaririse

Someone wanting to sleep with me because they “have a thing” for people with small breasts or with female genitals shaped like mine would feel really, really offensive, partly because it would disregard my gender completely, focusing so entirely on my individual girlparts.

But someone wanting to sleep with me because they’re really attracted to my androgyny and gender fluidity and they way my body can at once be masculine and in the next moment be feminine, well that’s totally different. Those happen to be the aspects of my sexed and gendered body that I love most, too.

I think this is my way of articulating something similar to what you’ve said. I think that sexual attractions based on the entirety of a person’s body, presentation and gender expression are genuine even as they include genitals and secondary sex parts. But this is because I cannot separate sexual attraction from my general stance on valuing whole individuals.

I would like us to clarify what we mean by “fetishize” in response to the prevailing definition that it requires the thing itself not be sexual to begin with. In my comment I was using it more in the sense that it gets used when talking about cultural appropriation, Orientalism and white supremacist/colonial fetishization of people of color. Fetish can be useful to mean “focus on and prioritizing of something Other which is not inherent or necessarily significant to the individual being Othered.”

Comment by Tupe

“Someone wanting to sleep with me because they “have a thing” for people with small breasts or with female genitals shaped like mine”

“someone wanting to sleep with me because they’re really attracted to my androgyny and gender fluidity and they way my body can at once be masculine and in the next moment be feminine, well that’s totally different.”

I don’t think you’ve fairly analogized these two expressions of desire. The first sentence describes what are likely the sub-components of the second–what would it mean for someone to like your “androgyny” and so forth if, ultimately, they are not liking your individual parts (even if collectively)?

I should also point out that I find the use of “feminine” and “masculine” to describe parts very troubling–unless you simply mean to note how *society* has labeled them (and still, someone admiring my fluctuating between these two concepts via a societal, constructed lens would turn me right off).

“I think that sexual attractions based on the entirety of a person’s body, presentation and gender expression are genuine even as they include genitals and secondary sex parts. But this is because I cannot separate sexual attraction from my general stance on valuing whole individuals.”

I’m sure I’m missing something here–not getting entirely what you are saying (?). It sounds like (and I guess on this in my last comment) that you are okay with attraction to parts so long as other portions of the person are taken into consideration for that attraction as well?

Comment by pisaquaririse

“I should also point out that I find the use of ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ to describe parts very troubling–unless you simply mean to note how *society* has labeled them.”

I was.

And though I hate to answer a question with a question, I think we’re possibly about to run into a huge bit of miscommunication.

Can I ask you would define “fetishizing” genitals? And can I ask how you invision sexual desire without that behavior?

Comment by Tupe

“At the same time, I would not say that the fetishizing of genitals is a simple”

“Not simple in it’s many manifestations, no, but I *do* think, simply, it is always wrong or has no positive net effect ever.”

To pisaquaririse: We get it. It’s obvious you hate sex, and think it’s a bad thing. Who are you to judge? I don’t particularly care for classic fetishists (the ones turned on by only feet, for example), but suddenly, you make me like them. Suddenly, I actually find myself liking fetishists, transvestites, polyamorists, BDSM, etc. Why? Because you are so narrow-minded, all those things start to look good in comparison.

I think what A. Nuran, above, was trying to say was not meant to be ageist, but that you are child-like in that you never developed adult sexual interest.

It’s OK for you to be asexual, which is the proper term for one with no sexual orientation or gender identity whatsoever. Just, please, don’t impose it on the rest of us! OK?

Comment by lesbianwoman

Obnoxious.

Comment by pisaquaririse

Of course sexual orientation (of any variety) is a fetish. Which means fetish is completely normal, and perhaps the only existing manifestation of sex an sexuality. what would non-fetishistic sex look like?

Comment by aroundthebend213

Normal does not equal innate–I certainly won’t argue with you that fetishizing people is the norm.
“what would non-fetishistic sex look like?”

That’s the thing: it wouldn’t be a matter of *looking* like anything.

Comment by pisaquaririse

“At the same time, I would not say that the fetishizing of genitals is a simple”

It isn’t simple, but it is so obvious that it goes without saying, and hoooweedoggie did you ever step in it by mentioning it.
This business of talking as though your body is what you use to carry your mind and spirit around and do things with instead of a sex object is just wayyyyy over the top.
I consider the fetish fixation of the current crop of humanity to be a clear indication and possible proof of entropy. We are definitely doing it right.
I don’t remember you having this many concern trolls before. Is this a new thing?

Comment by thebewilderness

IBTP linked here so the readership and variety of readers grew, re: concern trolls.

Please feel free to comment more and make it appear as though are more people in the world who believe this so every one can keep FREAKING OUT that *RADFEMINISM* is going to TAKE OVER. ;)

Comment by pisaquaririse

Homophobia.

Comment by polly styrene

Cross posted (but stuck in moderation) at IBTP.

In short, if you say that sexual orientation is a matter of just being attracted to a person’s gender, you are saying that genitals are irrelevant, that sexual orientation is just a matter of how much that person resembles a *man* or a *woman* in social gender roles.

I know that is the point that is being made above, the problem is it’s being made from a very heterosexist point of view. I am quite willing to believe that women are *attracted* to men without it being a genital thing, given the overwhelming social pressure to be attracted to men.

However the same can hardly be said of lesbians who have to act counter culturally to define themselves as lesbians in the first place. You have to be pretty sure to know that you are attracted to women to want to go through with the whole thing and its attendant social disadvantages.

Hence we have the phenomenon whereby women who are sexually attracted to *butch* women are asked *why aren’t you attracted to (biologically male) men then? The answer being that the biological males and the butch women have a somewhat different genital arrangement.

The original post is homophobic because it kind of ignores that a lot of us define ourselves as lesbians because we are SEXUALLY ATTRACTED to females. Not for political reasons, or because we want to avoid men, but because we actually fancy people with female genitals.

And furthermore it goes on to say that being attracted to female genitals is icky/bad/wrong, (which is very homophobic) and makes us no different from pornographers.

The point being ignored here is that although one tends to be attracted to whole people, there are some things in terms of a physical sexual relationship that are deal breakers they wouldn’t be in terms of mere friendship. That doesn’t mean lesbians are attracted to everyone who has female genitals though. Homophobic trope no 3, lesbians are sex beasts who fancy ALL females just because they’ve got female bits.

Above a commenter referred to women with penises being told their genitals are *sick and wrong*.
The commenter did not elucidate further on the circumstances in which this happens. However – I am speculating here of course -if someone defines themselves as a lesbian, by which they mean sexually attracted to female bodied people, I don’t see how saying that they are only sexually attracted to female bodied people is the same as saying someone’s genitals are *sick and wrong*.

The reason for this is that no human being has a right to demand another human being is sexually attracted to them. If someone defines themselves as a *woman* who am I to argue? However if that person has a penis and then demands that people who are only sexually attracted to people with female genitals is also attracted to them – on the basis of their *gender* – they are behaving very badly indeed.

Comment by polly styrene

This comment covers way more about orientation than I have–I’ll respond to the portions I feel branch off what I’ve written.

“it goes on to say that being attracted to female genitals is icky/bad/wrong, (which is very homophobic) and makes us no different from pornographers.”

Well, 1, I hyperbole-d for the sake of a sensational read (which I thought no one would read) so, actually, no–you aren’t *just like* a pornographer. However, the difference between what you seem to be describing and the pornographer mentioned are not far enough apart for me. If one doesn’t like to take photos of-or search out photos of- vulvas, then great (but no cookies). But if the sight of a vulva still *attracts* someone then how much different are they from a porn user? Not seeking it, perhaps, but a similar relationship in their mind nonetheless.
There is nothing innately attractive about a vulva. It’s some skin folds and fat and color. As I quoted above via Twisty: “Why must these vulgar specimens insist on its unique “beauty” when, in fact, a vulva is precisely as “beautiful” as an elbow or a nostril?” So then a social construct must develop between your eyes and your brain to cause this attraction. Given our current state of affairs, I am calling this construct a fetish.

If that’s homophobic to you then so be it. I couldn’t disagree more.

Comment by pisaquaririse

Also “creepy, creepy preoccupation with other’s parts”?| Seriously? So you think do you Pisaquari that because lesbians aren’t sexually attracted to men they just view women as walking vaginas? That the only way that it’s acceptable to be a lesbian is for political reasons, not because you’re sexually attracted to female people?

I really think you need to examine your own homophobia here Pisaquari. And as lesbianwoman said, try reading up on the Lavender Menace.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lavender_Menace

Comment by polly styrene

Your inferences are steeped in Agenda polly–this is not a post about lesbianism, it is a post about orientation.

Comment by pisaquaririse

The idea that sexual orientation is constructed rather than innate is one I wholeheartedly agree with and indeed discussed many times. But it is not necessary to compare a person with an orientation towards one sex only to a pornographer with a *creepy, creepy* fixation on genitals to do it. That’s homophobia in the way you did it above.

Yes *sex* itself is overlaid with cultural meanings, many of them to do with the exploitation of other human beings. And we do well to be wary of those. And lesbians are not exempt from that.

As for *this isn’t a post about lesbianism it is a post about orientation*, why is the only type of orientation you refer to specifically this?

Though I understand the reasoning behind using genitalia as a marker for certain kinds of socialization–hence not dating males because the chances they are sexist assholes is simply too HIGH– using genitalia as a visual marker for arousal or appeal is a fetishizing act and does not differ you in any way from another amateur pornographer:

Seems like a reference to those good ol’ political lesbians to me – the pure good kind who are just lesbians to avoid men, not the creepy, creepy type who actually like women’s genitals.

Biology lesson: Vulvas, vaginas and clitorises aren’t just skin, any more than your liver is just a collection of cell: it’s an organ and you’d soon die if it failed. They are in fact skin covering a whole lot of nerve endings , erectile tissue and some complex musculature – sexual organs in fact. They work together to produce sexual arousal, which is a pleasant sensation. Some of us enjoy that sexual arousal ourselves, and producing it in other people. That usually involves contact of some kind, (with mouths, hands, sex toys) with the other person’s genitals.

Now some of us find some people’s genital type sexually arousing, and some people’s genital type not sexually arousing. Some people aren’t bothered either way.

The fact that the people who only want to indulge in sexual activity with people of one genital type are like that does not mean that they see those people only as walking sets of genitals. Or that they are somehow morally inferior to you from your point of asexualness/bisexualness whatever it may be. They’re not morally superior, but they’re not morally inferior either. You didn’t just say sexual orientation was a type of fetish, a point I don’t disagree with, you said it was DISGUSTING, creepy and made anyone who’s got a sexual orientation towards one sex of person the same as a pornographer. The reason I said you were homophobic BTW is that homophobia includes gay men as well. Think about it.

And claiming *hyperbole* this late in the day is a bit of a rubbish excuse.

Comment by polly styrene

“As for *this isn’t a post about lesbianism it is a post about orientation*, why is the only type of orientation you refer to specifically this?”

This was an example of how using genitalia in a non-fetishizing way would work to find a partner–hardly the core argument of the post. The original linked-to post about the pornographer was about someone very HET. This post is as much for *men’s* behavior towards *women* as it is anything else.

“Biology lesson: Vulvas, vaginas and clitorises aren’t just skin…”

Yes Polly, thank you for the patronizing “lesson.” Were I talking about the internal functions your explanation would make sense. Instead I am talking about fetishizing, which I consider a very *visual* thing, thus I thought it only necessary to go into what people can see externally.

“You didn’t just say sexual orientation was a type of fetish, a point I don’t disagree with, you said it was DISGUSTING, creepy and made anyone who’s got a sexual orientation towards one sex of person the same as a pornographer.”

I consider fetishes disgusting–maybe you do not. You obviously have made some sort of peace with this–or don’t mind that people’s bodies are fetishized. I mind–it hasn’t made my life any easier and I certainly don’t think it’s made a lot of other womens’ any easier. In fact, I think it’s a big deal with shitty repercussions.

As for the homophobia: so long as you feel I am also het-phobic and bi-phobic.

Comment by pisaquaririse

And as to how being a lesbian is constructed – nature vs. nurture, I neither know nor care. Because I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.

Comment by polly styrene

I think “sexual orientation” has been conceived of and constructed as a way to justify men’s entitlement to the sexual/reproductive use of female bodies. And I therefore think framing lesbianism as being a sexual orientation *parallel to male sexualities* is a denial of the fundamental differences between male and female people. This denial is female-hating, and, specifically, lesbian-hating.

Comment by Margaret

So then the question is: do you not feel lesbianism involves fetishizing?

Comment by pisaquaririse

No, I don’t. Do I think lesbianism has been influenced by male supremacy, just as anything else has? Sure. But, no, I do not think that lesbianism is inherently, necessarily, or essentially fetishistic.

That is to say nothing, of course, about the nature of sexual proclivities involving males.

Comment by Margaret

I guess it’s homophobic then to say you dislike french-kissing – because homosexual people do it too?

It was certainly clear to me that Pisaquaririse was talking about orientation in a general way and not singling out lesbians or homosexuality. She does not mention lesbianism anywhere in her post; nor does she say, as Margaret insinuates, that lesbianism has done damage the way that men’s sexuality (of any description) has.

Comment by Valerie M

“But, no, I do not think that lesbianism is inherently, necessarily, or essentially fetishistic.”

Okay–but then, the premise of this post is something that you also disagree with: that part of lesbians’ decision to partner has to do with a visual relationship to *female parts*. If you don’t think that, then I know a lot of lesbians who would disagree with you.

Comment by pisaquaririse

Being female themselves, in possession of those same female parts, whatever relationship lesbians have to other women’s bodies, whether visual, tactile, olfactory, whatever, *is not the same as the relationships males have to female bodies*. That’s the point I’m making.

Comment by Margaret

Well, I don’t necessarily disagree with you–however, *not exactly the same* does not exclude *still have similar problematic elements*. My point is, making a decision partly based on an attraction to inborn parts of a person is wrong–either you think that or you don’t.

Comment by pisaquaririse

Why is it that you seem to think that lesbian attraction to other women boils down to their attraction *only* to vulvas, vaginas, and clitorises? Lesbians are attracted to *females*, to *femaleness*, and, yes, females have vaginas, vulvas, and clitorises, but that isn’t all we have.

And as for “still have similar problematic elements,” well, that’d be what the part about lesbianism being susceptible to male influence addresses. But, see, that male influence has nothing, nothing whatsoever, to do with what you’re calling “orientation.”

Comment by Margaret

Valerie M, you have-apparently-just revealed yourself homophobic. Nice going!

Comment by pisaquaririse

Valerie, you either didn’t read my comment, or you didn’t understand it. That she includes lesbianism in her concept of “orientation,” period, is lesbian-hating. It’s a denial of the fact that “orientation” itself is a male concept, construed to the benefit of males. If she wants to re-define ‘orientation’, that’s fine. But she hasn’t in this post. Whatever point you’re trying to make with the french-kissing example has nothing to do with the fact that she erases distinctions between males and females with her use of conflating terms like “orientation” in the first place.

Comment by Margaret

Margaret, in all fairness, you know very well “orientation” is used by a lot of people who make no personal distinction based on sex. If lesbians commonly rejected the use of “orientation” as a way to describe their interests then your point would make sense. “Orientation” is the way most people describe their (lesbians included) decision about partnering so it got the job done so far as this post is concerned.

I think your reaching far and wide to say I’ve erased a distinction by using the very term *lesbians use*.

Comment by pisaquaririse

Pisaquari, plenty of people use problematic language. Just because lesbians have learned to think of their own sexuality as being somehow parallel to the sexualities of males (the very basis of GLBTQQ-ism), that doesn’t make it right. And it especially doesn’t make it OK for you to turn that against lesbians – as if this conflation were their idea – as a heterosexual woman.

Comment by Margaret

“Why is it that you seem to think that lesbian attraction to other women boils down to their attraction *only* to vulvas, vaginas, and clitorises? Lesbians are attracted to *females*, to *femaleness*, and, yes, females have vaginas, vulvas, and clitorises, but that isn’t all we have.”

I have said, several times through this discussion, that the attraction to parts is only *one portion* of the orientation. It does not mean that the reasons people fall for each other are all bad. It simply means that this *one* dynamic is a problem.

Comment by pisaquaririse

Female people aren’t “parts,” pisaquari. You cannot love female people and chop them up into respectable parts and “problematic” parts. There is nothing “problematic” about female attraction to females.

Yes, there may be problems with the way that some females adopt facets of male predation on women. But that is not the same thing as saying there’s a problem with unfettered attraction, which, yes, includes sexual attraction.

Comment by Margaret

“But, see, that male influence has nothing, nothing whatsoever, to do with what you’re calling “orientation.””

Do you or do you not admit “orientation” is the commonly used term for the way females describe their partnering decisions?

Comment by pisaquaririse

What I admit, pisaquari, is that lesbians mean something entirely different by the word “orientation” than males do. They mean something different than you do. This difference is obscured by the subjugation of lesbianism under gayness, which subjugation is perpetuated in this post. It is not OK for you to perpetuate the masking of this distinction just because “lesbians do it too.” It just isn’t, any more than it’s OK for whites to point at blacks who call each other “nigger.”

Comment by Margaret

Margaret, you are the *first* person I have EVER heard to make an issue of the way “orientation” is being used here.

“that lesbians mean something entirely different by the word “orientation” than males do.”

Then what do they mean?

And what word would you have me use to term what my post is referring to?

Comment by pisaquaririse

Well, for one thing, lesbianism has nothing to do with the furtherance of male sexual/reproductive use of female bodies. I don’t understand why this is a trivial distinction to you, but you’ve made clear that it is and that you see no problem with likening lesbians to males. We’re at the point of agreeing to disagree – about the issue of lesbianism and my supposed hostility.

And what word would you have me use to term what my post is referring to?

How about male objectification of the Other? That seems to be what the reference to “amateur pornographers” was about, but I guess that term wouldn’t implicate lesbianism (regardless of whether it would implicate individual lesbian women), and the implication of lesbianism seems to be a sticking point for you. Not being hostile, just saying that’s the impression I get.

Comment by Margaret

[...] “Do you or do you not admit “orientation” is the commonly used term for the way females describe …,” says pisaquari.  Ha!  One may as well ask whether women in general commonly call themselves “bitches,” or whether “feminists” call themselves “feminine.”  I have my own question: does the fact that the oppressed commonly use language that perpetuates their own oppression mean that it’s OK to oppress them? [...]

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Pisaquari, plenty of people use problematic language. Just because lesbians have learned to think of their own sexuality as being somehow parallel to the sexualities of males (the very basis of GLBTQQ-ism

Hooookay, don’t you think you’re kind of putting a hell of a lot on Pisaquaririse’s shoulders here? She used the commonly available and accepted language to make a simple and perfectly logical statement.

She does not deserve all this hostility. Her post is very clear and concise and I think everyone knows what she’s on about. Just because it doesn’t contain an analysis of every other subject in feminism does not mean it isn’t an important statement. And she did not say that female sexuality is parallel to male sexuality.

For those of you who feel that sexual orientation or whatever you want to call it is real and would exist outside the genderised patriarchy that we currently live in, there is a whole world out there that agrees with you.

I prefer to question things. At least she’s talking about it. I thought was what what feminists did. Examine. Explore.

Comment by Valerie M

I, too, am baffled by the semantics war this thread has become.

Comment by pisaquaririse

Of course you’re baffled. You don’t understand the lesbian-hating assumptions that underlie your assertions, and you don’t seem to think that straight women like yourself ought to be more careful of perpetuating the oppression of lesbians than lesbians are themselves.

Comment by Margaret

Why is Margie’s stance called hostility. Can debate and disagreement only be seen as hostile? Or is it just when certain people take issue does it become hostile?

Comment by The Fabulously Mean Mutineer Kitty Glendower

“Female people aren’t “parts,” pisaquari.”

You know you are not representing my words accurately. I never said they were parts. I said people make part of their decision to love females (if it can be called that) based on a visual relationship to their body parts.

“You cannot love female people and chop them up into respectable parts and “problematic” parts.”

Again, not what I said. I’m not saying that female parts are problematic–I’m saying the relationship to them is.

“There is nothing “problematic” about female attraction to females.”

Well maybe not you–but to me, deciding to be with someone, even partially, because you find their breasts and genitalia hawt?? Extremely problematic. You don’t agree, fine.

Comment by pisaquaririse

but to me, deciding to be with someone, even partially, because you find their breasts and genitalia hawt??

So, what you’re saying, then, is that being a lesbian boils down – at least partially – to finding breats, vulvas, vaginas, and clitorises (not going to use the term ‘genitalia’) “hawt”?? Really? And you don’t think that “hawt” is in particular a male-conceived notion of female worth? I do have to say that most of the lesbians I know are not “hawt” by any male standard, so if you want to say that lesbianism itself is problematic because of “hawtness,” then perhaps you should let folks know what you mean by a “hawtness” that doesn’t have anything to do with male constructs of womanhood and which could therefore hypothetically have something to do with lesbianism in particular.

Comment by Margaret

“So, what you’re saying, then, is that being a lesbian boils down – at least partially – to finding breats, vulvas, vaginas, and clitorises (not going to use the term ‘genitalia’) “hawt”?? Really?”

Yes, I’m saying that it *can* (yes, *really*)–not always, 100% of the time.

“And you don’t think that “hawt” is in particular a male-conceived notion of female worth? I do have to say that most of the lesbians I know are not “hawt” by any male standard,”

I think “hawt” certainly is largely a male-conceived concept yes but I’m not so much concerned that it’s always a male standard–females can create standards too–it’s the standards for others’ body parts that can be the problem. I really don’t care who comes up with the BS rating system.

Comment by pisaquaririse

Ah, but, see, what you actually said was that orientation *itself* (and you didn’t limit it to males) was problematic, not the fact that some lesbian women have adopted the social standards of males.

And then you went on to make explicit your disgust for attraction (undifferentiated by sex) for female bodies, while leaving tacit your disdain for attraction to the old beanie wienie. In light of the callousness with which the term ‘orientation’ was wielded without a care for either it’s male origins or the way it was being used to *liken lesbian women in particular to MALES*, I don’t think it’s unfair that many of us took note of this, too, as being evidence of lesbian-hating.

I’m glad you’ve finally stated what it is you meant to say, but I can’t help but note that I suggested exactly that yesterday:

But, see, that male influence has nothing, nothing whatsoever, to do with what you’re calling “orientation.

Comment by Margaret

I have read this thread over a few times, and I keep coming back to this.
“They will still like pussy or cock. They will still be turned on by the sight and smell of male bodies, female bodies or both.”
Today I realized what was bothering me about it.
They left out a line.
Ought properly to have added:
When the bell rings they will salivate.

This could have been an interesting discussion, were it not for the accusation brigade who consider it their job to thrash uppity women for including/excluding something or someone!
How very uppity you are!

Comment by thebewilderness

No reference to lesbians?

Though I understand the reasoning behind using genitalia as a marker for certain kinds of socialization–hence not dating males because the chances they are sexist assholes is simply too HIGH

So this is about gay men deciding to turn straight to avoid sexist assholes is it?

You may well be heterophobic and biphobic Pisaquari, but the only “orientation” you mention specifically is lesbianism.

And you don’t only have to like the look of someone’s genitals to be attracted by them, you can also enjoy the touch, taste, smell and yes sound of them.

The reason most people can come to terms with this is that we think sex is nice, pleasant, enjoyable. And we think that giving sexual pleasure to someone else is nice, pleasant, enjoyable.

Every single lesbian I know is a lesbian because she is sexually attracted to women. That’s the one and only reason. They like female bodies. Including the genitals. Most of them fell about laughing when I told them about ‘political lesbians’. Including the one who works in a radical women’s bookshop and has met Andrea Dworkin.

That doesn’t mean they fancy every single female bodied person they know. It does mean they don’t ever fancy male people. Even if they otherwise like them. To have a sexual relationship with someone you have to be sexually attracted to them.

Enjoying having sex with someone who wants to have sex with you, and being aroused by their body is not the same as viewing porn and wanking over someone you don’t give a shit about and probably hate in fact.

Having my body *fetishized* by males hasn’t made my life any easier.

Because I didn’t want them to do it, and they did it against my will. That’s about them being abusive. Not about them being aroused by female bodies.

Knowing women who are sexually orientated towards women has made my life worth living. Do you really equate someone engaging in a consensual, mutually enjoyable sexual relationship with someone who sexully abuses others against their will?

The problem isn’t sexual attraction, the problem is male abuse of women. Which is very little to do with sexual attraction anyway.

Comment by polly styrene

“And you don’t only have to like the look of someone’s genitals to be attracted by them, you can also enjoy the touch, taste, smell and yes sound of them.”

Well, you know, I’m ONLY (ONE THING) (specific) (s.p.e.l.l.e.d o.u.t the first time) talking about fetishizing via appearance (visual attraction–stop! no further!). So maybe if people would stick to the damn point we wouldn’t have to frustrate the discussion so much.

“Having my body *fetishized* by males hasn’t made my life any easier”

Yes, well, it hasn’t really felt any better when I’ve had women fixate on my body parts either.

The rest of your comment is so far off base to what I’m putting across that it’s not worth the headache spelling out why.

Comment by pisaquaririse

Can I ask which women have fixated on YOUR body parts specifically and how you know that they did this – I mean YOUR BODY PARTS, not just women who are sexually attracted to women – because it’s a bit arrogant to assume a woman who is sexually attracted to women in general is automatically to you.

And what did this woman/women do? Did they harass you? Did they take pictures of your body part parts without your knowledge? Did they yell at you in the street?

Or are you just saying that the idea of any woman being attracted to her partners (not yours) body parts affects you in some way? That women shouldn’t be allowed to be sexually attracted to other women because you don’t like it and find the idea disgusting?

Because that sounds pretty damn homophobic to me.

Comment by polly styrene

Well, you know, I’m ONLY (ONE THING) (specific) (s.p.e.l.l.e.d o.u.t the first time) talking about fetishizing via appearance (visual attraction–stop! no further!). So maybe if people would stick to the damn point we wouldn’t have to frustrate the discussion so much.

No you’re not. You’re saying the whole reason that anyone has a sexual orientation is that they fixate on their partner’s genitals.

In most cases, to have a sexual orientation, is to have fetishized genitalia

NO ONE I know has a sexual orientation just because they like LOOKING at their partner’s genitals. No one I know has sex that consists just of staring at the partners sexual organs.

Comment by polly styrene

I usually agree with just about everything you say, pisaquari. I’m also disappointed that your blog will be on hiatus.

With this, though, I disagree. I do believe genitals are fetishized in our society. Most usually by men and trannies. They are the ones fetishizing genitals. Women typically don’t. Not that they couldn’t or wouldn’t, but they usually don’t, b/c they take a more holistic approach to people. But claiming an orientation, whether straight, gay, or bi, does not mean that one has fetishized genitals. I think genitals are kinda funny looking, myself, but it’s where the pleasure is at, so you gotta deal with them. For example, a picture of a disembodied dick or vulva does not turn me on in the least. So, how am I fetishizing genitals by claiming an orientation? It doesn’t make sense. People have sex with people. People have genitals (except those rare people born without).

This whole thing to me smacks of “sex is bad and dirty,” or “sexual attraction is bad.” Sexual attraction is what it is. Part of its nature is shallowness (which some people are bothered by). Do I think some people won’t find me sexually attractive b/c I’m overweight? Yes. Do I think some people won’t find me sexually attractive b/c I have a crooked nose? Yes. Do I fucking care? No. There are people I don’t find sexually attractive for various reasons. It is what it is.

But sex is not bad. Yes, some people have been abused, molested, raped, etc. That is bad. That is terrible. Some people have no libido. That’s part of the variety of nature. But just like sex pozzies don’t get to define what “normal” sexual behavior is, neither do people who have been abused or who don’t care about sex get to define it, either.

I like sex. I’ve had some enjoyable sexual encounters with men. Currently, I have enjoyable sexual encounters with myself. If I have sex with women in the future, I assume that it will be enjoyable, and if all the scuttlebutt is to be believed, it will probably be way more enjoyable than the sex I’ve had with men.

Orientation is simply a label to define whom you prefer to have sex with. If you don’t have an orientation, whom do you have sex with? The obvious implication is no one. That also implies a non-existant libido, a dislike of sex, or some such. Which is perfectly OK, but it doesn’t mean you can villify the people who do like to have sex with either their own sex, the opposite sex, both, or whatever.

Like I said, genitals are indeed fetishized in our culture, but I don’t believe that the simple act of preferring to have sex with one sex, the other, or both means that one has fetishized genitals.

Comment by veganprimate

Why do people assume that they are exempt from social conditioning?
If society fetishizes women and their body parts, which it does, how can you argue that you are not conditioned to do so?

The other thing I do not understand is the assumption that a person who does not have sex with other people must have no libido.
You wouldn’t call a pornsick weasel who is wanking all day long a person who had no libido. But let a woman say they choose not to have sex with others and suddenly they must have no libido and dislike sex.

People are bringing a lot of straw built accusations to this discussion, and I can’t help wondering why.

Comment by thebewilderness

Thank you thebewilderness.

Comment by pisaquaririse

“I do believe genitals are fetishized in our society. Most usually by men and trannies. They are the ones fetishizing genitals. Women typically don’t. Not that they couldn’t or wouldn’t, but they usually don’t, b/c they take a more holistic approach to people.”

Okay, well, essentially I think the exact same thing. Though I haven’t spelled out who does the fetishizing more via demographics with my post because it was meant to be short (I’m sure this fetishizing act fluctuates by generation as well–i.e. who has been exposed to more p0rn).

The rest of your comment is bizarre to me. Part of it has nothing to do with what I’m talking about.

The rest really reminds me of something a male-centric libfem would say to someone who has taken issue with anal beads or some such. I mean, I am so averse to telling a woman, in a patriarchy, that she doesn’t like sex because she points out something about our sexual construction she doesn’t like–and then to insinuate that it’s *bad* she doesn’t like sex. Lots of women have very good reasons to not like sex and find problems with it.

I guess I’m just more surprised there weren’t some serious alarms going off when you wrote that comment. And if they were, why they weren’t loud enough to interject before completing writing “oh no, you are saying something might be wrong about the SEX.”

So, again, as far I’m reading it we don’t even disagree.

Comment by pisaquaririse

The rest of your comment is bizarre to me. Part of it has nothing to do with what I’m talking about.

The rest really reminds me of something a male-centric libfem would say to someone who has taken issue with anal beads or some such. I mean, I am so averse to telling a woman, in a patriarchy, that she doesn’t like sex because she points out something about our sexual construction she doesn’t like–and then to insinuate that it’s *bad* she doesn’t like sex. Lots of women have very good reasons to not like sex and find problems with it.

Of course they do. And I said as much. It’s OK not to like sex. It’s OK to not have a libido. But I’m objecting to people who don’t have a libido criticizing people who do. No, you didn’t say that outright, but it was implied. How was it implied? By saying that people who have an orienation are fetishists.

I came across a reference to an orientation that is called “pansexual,” if I remember correctly. What it boils down to is someone who is bisexual, but also included trannies and people who are “genderqueer” or whatever the hell the term is. No one is going to use that term unless they specifically seek out sex with those types of people. Otherwise, they would call themselves bisexual. Now, if someone says sexual orientation is a social construct and they don’t believe in it, then there are two implications: one is that they’ll fuck anything, similar to a pansexual, since orientation doesn’t mean anything, and two is that they don’t have a libido and don’t care to have sex. There’s nothing wrong with not wanting sex or not liking sex, but implying that dislike of sex is somehow feminist is something I have a problem with. And again, it’s not something that you are stating explicity, but it is hiding under the surface. I’m getting the feeling that you’re trying hard NOT to say that.

The bewilderness said, “The other thing I do not understand is the assumption that a person who does not have sex with other people must have no libido.”

I’m not saying that people who don’t have sex don’t have a libido. I’m saying that people who don’t WANT to have sex have no libido (which is, you know, kinda the definition). And I’m getting the don’t want to vibe from all the vilification of orientation. Being straight, gay, or bi is not a fetish.

And there’s nothing wrong with not having a libido and/or not liking sex. But it’s not more feminist.

I guess I’m just more surprised there weren’t some serious alarms going off when you wrote that comment.

Well, considering the number of people who have called you homophobic, I would say the same thing about your original post.

Comment by veganprimate

‘No reference to lesbians?

Though I understand the reasoning behind using genitalia as a marker for certain kinds of socialization–hence not dating males because the chances they are sexist assholes is simply too HIGH

So this is about gay men deciding to turn straight to avoid sexist assholes is it?

You may well be heterophobic and biphobic Pisaquari, but the only “orientation” you mention specifically is lesbianism.’

Not dating men does not automatically make someone a lesbian. It makes someone a person who doesn’t date men.

Comment by Valerie M

What??????

I was pointing out that Pisaquairi’s comment referred specifically to lesbians and that was the only sexual orientation she referred to. Because the only other group of people it could have referred to was gay men and it would have been a bit daft if it did. What is clearly implied by Pisaquari’s comment is that if you don’t date men because you don’t like male genitals/only like female genitals that is *creepy, creepy*

It was nothing to do with not dating men making you a lesbian.

Unless you are saying *not dating men* is an ORIENTATION ValerieM. The post is about orientation remember?

Now I’m sorry but there are no accidents. Since several commenters who are not in any way connected, or part of a deliberate swarm, have said the same thing here, I think it’s time to acknowledge that prejudices can show even when that isn’t the conscious intention.

Comment by polly styrene

What is clearly implied by Pisaquari’s comment is that if you don’t date men because you don’t like male genitals/only like female genitals that is *creepy, creepy*

Isn’t that putting words in her mouth? What I took from the sentence you originally cited –

Though I understand the reasoning behind using genitalia as a marker for certain kinds of socialization–hence not dating males because the chances they are sexist assholes is simply too HIGH

is that she had straight women who have sworn off men more in mind. As in a woman who uses penises as a ‘marker’ for people to avoid romantically, following a lot of nasty lessons.

I assume this is what she means because if the ONLY reason you are not dating men is because they’re assholes, then you are not a lesbian, correct? I suppose you may decide to be a political lesbian, or you may choose just not to date others.

The sentence with ‘creepy, creepy’ in it is:

Not because bodies are ew but because that creepy creepy preoccupation with others’ parts is

in which she also does not single out lesbians.

I think it’s time to acknowledge that prejudices can show even when that isn’t the conscious intention.

In my experience, feminists are more likely to do this than anyone else, not that they always get it right the first try.

Comment by Valerie M

But if you are NOW saying Pisaquari, that most people’s sexual orientation is just because they like the appearance of their partner’s genitals, and LOOKING at their partner’s genitals. (Which you didn’t say at all originally, but never mind). That is utter crap and bullshit. Full Stop.

Comment by polly styrene

As the bewilderness pointed out elsewhere, this has become a pile-on. I want to apologize for my participation. I’ve never had a problem with anything else you’ve written. And our disagreement on this one point is hardly anything worth getting steamed up about.

I’m sorry.

Comment by veganprimate

****LENGTHY–RESPONSES TO MANY****

Polly:

“No you’re not. You’re saying the whole reason that anyone has a sexual orientation is that they fixate on their partner’s genitals.”

Please read the original post: “One of the BIG reasons I no longer believe in, or support the idea of, sexual orientation”
Please read the subsequent comments I’ve made after to many commenters, including you:
1. “My point is, making a decision partly based on an attraction to inborn parts of a person is wrong–”
2. “I have said, several times through this discussion, that the attraction to parts is only *one portion* of the orientation. It does not mean that the reasons people fall for each other are all bad. It simply means that this *one* dynamic is a problem.”
3. “I said people make part of their decision to love females (if it can be called that) based on a visual relationship to their body parts.”

Not ONCE have I said what the *whole* reasoning is behind sexual orientation.
If I have said otherwise anywhere in this thread, quote me.

Polly:

“NO ONE I know has a sexual orientation just because they like LOOKING at their partner’s genitals. No one I know has sex that consists just of staring at the partners sexual organs.”

See comments above. And below.

Polly:

“But if you are NOW saying Pisaquari, that most people’s sexual orientation is just because they like the appearance of their partner’s genitals, and LOOKING at their partner’s genitals. (Which you didn’t say at all originally, but never mind). That is utter crap and bullshit. Full Stop.”

Umm, Polly–I actually know A LOT of people who happily talk about how, when they met their significant other, what first brought them to the other person was their nice chest, cute butt, nice legs, etc… (men and women here polly). Is that the sum total of their sexual orientation? No, of course not. But it doesn’t have to be to still be a problem.

Polly:

“Can I ask which women have fixated on YOUR body parts specifically and how you know that they did this – I mean YOUR BODY PARTS, not just women who are sexually attracted to women – because it’s a bit arrogant to assume a woman who is sexually attracted to women in general is automatically to you.

And what did this woman/women do? Did they harass you? Did they take pictures of your body part parts without your knowledge? Did they yell at you in the street?”

Yes, well, I was actually thinking of specific instances where a woman has spoken of my body in a way I find unsavory. The last time I can think of was a year or so ago when a woman (who liked women) told me “Nice tits” whilst staring right at my chest. She didn’t harass or stalk me (yaaay!), no. Shall I submit to you transcripts of anytime I’ve felt a woman spoke wrongly of my body to make sure I get your approval?

Polly:

“That women shouldn’t be allowed to be sexually attracted to other women because you don’t like it and find the idea disgusting? “

Once again, I’m saying fetishizing body parts is wrong Polly. Do you or do you not agree with this statement?

Margaret:

“Ah, but, see, what you actually said was that orientation *itself* (and you didn’t limit it to males) was problematic, not the fact that some lesbian women have adopted the social standards of males.”

You’re right, I didn’t. But I also didn’t mention that females have adopted social standards of males to apply to *other males*. I didn’t spell out a lot of things because I didn’t find it necessary–I was pointing out one *behavior* that I thought was wrong and a context in which I generally see it: orientation. Now, you find orientation to be a male concept. I’m not in total disagreement with you there. But it makes sense to me, if you feel what I’m talking about (wrt lesbians) is a male-created behavior, that I would name it under a male-created concept. It doesn’t mean I equate all of lesbianism with male sexuality. I’m saying that when they display *this* behavior it happens in *this* context.

Veganprimate:

“It’s OK not to like sex. It’s OK to not have a libido. But I’m objecting to people who don’t have a libido criticizing people who do. No, you didn’t say that outright, but it was implied. How was it implied? By saying that people who have an orienation are fetishists.”

Now, I know in your follow up comment you apologized for participating in what you called a “pile-on.” I appreciate your concern, thank you. (I promise, however, I do not feel overwhelmed by the disagreement–though I can’t say I’m thrilled with the way all the convos have went)
So, maybe you don’t intend to carry forth any conversation on this thread and if so I understand. But what I quoted above really confuses me so I wanted to see if I could parse it out with you. If nothing else, for understanding.
Why is it you think a libido would be dependent on the existence of an orientation? What if someone just likes who they like? Falls in love with people because they find they do great things, treat others well and act ethically? And at no point are triggered by the desire to be with them based on predetermined categories–do you not feel this is possible? And if you do feel it’s possible, isn’t it then still possible to enjoy the physical sensations of sex while having neutral feeling about the sight of their genitals? I mean that in the was Twisty said it: “a vulva is precisely as “beautiful” as an elbow or a nostril?”

General Comment
I’ve been thinking about something that may be very much influencing my opinion: I would venture I am younger than all those commenting here. My first exposure to pornography was in elementary school–hardcore, sadistic pornography. I didn’t have too many friends with much different a story. Porn is laden with hours of stills and frame-shots of *just genitalia*. Now, I know bodies have been fetishized for a while in different ways but I do think the porn-saturation in the last 10 years has been intense beyond belief. More so than older generations. Girls in high school now refer to their female friends’ genitalia as “pussy.” Boob jobs are commonplace. Labiaplasty is on its way to commonplace. I have felt my parts fetishized for a very long time by a lot of people (boyfriends, friends, strangers) and had virtually NO ONE call out the behavior. So I’m thinking, part of my *intense* insistence on the problems of this behavior and it’s ill-effects might very well be my age and the fact I have been surrounded by it for most of my life.

Comment by pisaquaririse

I’ve been thinking about something that may be very much influencing my opinion: I would venture I am younger than all those commenting here. My first exposure to pornography was in elementary school–hardcore, sadistic pornography.

You know what. That’s a brilliant insight, and I think you’re spot on with that. I came of age in a really good time…after everyone figured out that women had clitorises and deserved sexual pleasure, but before ubiquitous internet porn. So, yeah, my sexual experiences were really good. I did have a couple encounters that were coercive or otherwise unpleasant, but they weren’t the norm.

Oh, and since my avatar doesn’t show in your comments, I wanted to make to make you knew that I’m BBB. I just changed my handle recently to match my blog addy.

Why is it you think a libido would be dependent on the existence of an orientation? What if someone just likes who they like? Falls in love with people because they find they do great things, treat others well and act ethically? And at no point are triggered by the desire to be with them based on predetermined categories–do you not feel this is possible?

Of course, I think it’s possible. But there is already a term for that…it’s called bisexual. There are two sexes, so if you fall in love with someone regardless of sex, then you’re bisexual.

And if you do feel it’s possible, isn’t it then still possible to enjoy the physical sensations of sex while having neutral feeling about the sight of their genitals?

Yes, of course. I think I said earlier that I find genitals kinda funny looking. I don’t get aroused at the sight of disembodied genitals. And I think others here have also said as much. Normal, everyday lesbians and bisexual women do not sit around wanking to pictures of split beaver. If anyone does that, it’d most likely be men.

I just find it bizarre that you insist people are gay or straight based on liking the looks of someone’s genitalia. That’s kinda strange. I usually feel like I am attracted to people DESPITE their genitals.

Women are straight because they like MEN, not b/c they like looking at dicks. Women are lesbians b/c they like women, not b/c they like the sight of vulvas.

Comment by veganprimate

Yes I do know that you are BBB (not *that* out of touch, yet–out of touch nonetheless).

“ut there is already a term for that…it’s called bisexual. There are two sexes, so if you fall in love with someone regardless of sex, then you’re bisexual.”

Well, applying this to my post, I’m still saying bisexual can have elements of fetishizing–it would simply come in the form of two sexes instead of one.

“And I think others here have also said as much. Normal, everyday lesbians and bisexual women do not sit around wanking to pictures of split beaver. If anyone does that, it’d most likely be men.”

Quite likely, yes. But I also think, as mentioned, this comment would not be as true for younger generations.
Plus, the female body as a fetish can mean waaay more than genitalia–legs, abs, breasts, butt.

So again, “Women are straight because they like MEN, not b/c they like looking at dicks. Women are lesbians b/c they like women, not b/c they like the sight of vulvas.”–has not been the bulk of my impression via experience.

“I just find it bizarre that you insist people are gay or straight based on liking the looks of someone’s genitalia. That’s kinda strange. I usually feel like I am attracted to people DESPITE their genitals.”
Well, again, I’ve never said sexuality HAS TO or ONLY rests on this fetishization. Just that I’ve understood it to be part of the orienting process.

Comment by pisaquaririse

I think your original statement is spot on.

Comment by Arantxa




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