In Defense of the Anorexic

Chris Kraus says that the systematic refusal to nourish one’s body is the systematic refusal to consume the cynicism of the world. It is is the rejection of society and its perpetuating desire to degrade the soul. She argues that it is neither the plight of beauty nor the glorification of thinness, but instead the intensely visible pursuit of disappearing completely. A disappearance that is quick to be judged and painstakingly slow to be understood.

And how can it ever be understood when the satiated viewer exonerate their own role in it? Like mass incarceration, depression, and poverty, anorexia is the byproduct of a broken society and not the existence of an inherently defective psyche.

For how can one possibly consume food when it has raped the land, exploited the workers, appeased the capitalists, and poisoned the impoverished? They cannot. And they shall not. They would rather starve.

Is not then the anorexic the more moral of us all? Have they then not opened their eyes long enough to realise that a muffin is not a muffin, but a symbol of cheap labour, greedy politics, and ever swelling class inequality? The muffin that is made from bleached flour, caged eggs, dirty dairy and colonised spices. That is used to satiate the blind and hungry masses whilst simultaneously conspiring to sicken them. Enter the massacre that masquerades as Monsanto.

Is not the muffin then the ultimate lack of transparency? Is it not everything that happens behind closed doors? That estranges humankind from the seasons, the soil, and the scarcity that has kept our greed in check since the dawn of time?

To perceive food as merely sustenance is one of the greatest of the ignorant privileges. In every part of the world a person’s relationship to food is defined by class and those whom society values, they feed well. The excesses of the industralised world can be coolly compared to the acute sufferings of the developing nations. The nations that are kept systemically impoverished so that we may enjoy our satisfactorily priced coffee whilst lining the pockets of faces that look just like ours. Our heralded entrepreneurs, our modern day explorers.

And then we must ask ourselves, why is the anorexic a woman? Why is she middle-class? And why has she decided to participate in self-inflicted starvation despite her well-acknowledged lifestyle of extreme excess? Surely, she of all people is the last to hold the torch of puritan moral strength, the last to envision herself as some sort of new age saviour intent of purging the sins of us all. Yet the anorexic is female, she is prolific, and she is starving.

While Mother Earth perishes at the hands of unbridled greed, her daughters perish along side her. And yet like abortion and other female “trivialities” we don’t talk or collectively grieve about, the anorexic must suffer alone because it is her “choice” whether she eats or not. Coming from the mouth of a woman who once nearly disappeared completely, I can assure you the meticulous purification of the body is anything but a choice. It is the unconscious resistance of conforming to a vast social madness. It is the denial of fertility in a dying world, the wielding of influence in a world dominated by a broken conception of masculine power, the emancipation from capitalist excess that feeds like a parasite on the exploitation of those weaker than itself, and the morbid rejection of a hyper-sexualised ideal of female sexuality that glorifies the under-nourished and over-disciplined body. It is the choice to die at one’s own hands rather than be killed by the hands of another.

In a world that seeks to strip every inch of power from those that cannot or will not prescribe to its sickness, the anorexic fights back. In refusing to let the sanctioned authority govern her, she governs it. She starves not just for herself, but for every natural and human resource that is exploited for her benefit. She starves so that one day we might ask not what is wrong with her, but what is wrong with ourselves.

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Single in Auckland

You’ve moved to the most metropolis city New Zealand has to offer. High on fleeting international romances and too many one night stands. Ready to settle down. Put art before dick. Unaware that a year later that mantra would prove to be a little too self fulfilling.

Auckland is a tough nut to crack. After staking out the only two half decent venues for over a year, you pretty much know or have fucked everybody in there. Except for the ones veering on a decade younger than you, the ones that look suspiciously close in age to the kids you’re professionally employed to take care of. And if by some pure miracle you do encounter a stranger that doesn’t have a hidden girlfriend, you’ll be lucky to get even a look in your direction. Because rest assured, he isn’t interested in sex as much as he is interested in self-loathing and making bad music. Usually named after himself, despite it being a full band.   

Once you get desperate enough, you’ll probably start talking to French men in cargo pants. And watching a lot of The 100. Wishing the apocalypse would come, so men would finally take their shirts off and be forced to make a move on you before the world ends. That is, of course, if you haven’t somehow ran into a friend of a friend (who you’ve met roughly six times but he still doesn’t know your name) and found yourself back at his place. Which can only mean one thing: you’ve angled a bang. Which can only mean one of three things: he will a) not be able to go through with it due his existential crisis b) fuck you then tell you about how upset he is about his recent break up or c) agree with feminist discourse about eating pussy but somehow never quite make it down to yours.

Alternatively, and lucky for you, you might find yourself running in some of the same circles as those in progressive relationship structures. An arrangement that happens to serve your wanton nature rather nicely, despite your mother’s best attempts at a Catholic i.e slut shaming upbringing. In keeping with the tradition of the second stringer, a motif that is particularly dear to your heart, you will most likely find yourself in bed with a man who is very much committed to somebody who conveniently isn’t yourself. So whilst you’re trying to put the girlfriend in Europe out of your brain whilst you’re fucking in the sand dunes, you can look forward to a follow up conversation that looks a little something like ‘I really need to focus on my relationship. You know, the one that doesn’t include you.’ But don’t get too upset about it because although he likes to acknowledge the power structures in society, when it comes to his own emotions, he is just like everybody else. Not a man. But a feeling creature. A mere human.

This is particularly true of the latest off shoot to make it’s way up and inside your vagina: the feminist fuckboi. The feminist fuckboi is somewhat of an enigma. He knows a lot about women’s issues. And isn’t afraid to explain the nuances of it. A different specimen from his unrepentant and overtly misogynistic predecessors, he is part of 350 and wants to smash the patriarchy just as much as you do. He says things like “men are insecure” and “bleed on me, menstruation is sacred”. When he isn’t campaigning to save the world from toxic masculinity and neoliberal fuckery, he is creating sensual psychedelic beats to help open up your divine feminine so you can make inter-dimensional love with his woke dick. But don’t worry, you’re going to enjoy this one. Ethical consumption aside, he truly does love to eat pussy. At least for that short period of time between realising how emotionally fragile he is and rediscovering the eight fold wheel of Buddha.

So here you are, a year and a half later. Reminiscing about the time you were fucking a mechanic in Timaru who actually liked spending time with you. Or better yet, liked fucking you and could find absolutely no reason to stop. But no, Auckland is home of the tormented. The if it isn’t sad and it isn’t in a song, then it probably isn’t significant. Home of the dying libido. And actually smiling at a woman let alone expressing a mild interest in her body might run the risk of exposing a minimal criminal for his less glamorous but perhaps more well suited friend, fucking underwhelming. Nevertheless, with every grey cloud does indeed come a silver lining. I am just yet to find out what exactly that is. Heterosexual, single and feminist in Auckland? Yeah. It’s a bad time.  

 

To, with, and because of S Cowdell. Thanks for being equally as despondent. 

 

 

Rough Sex and the Politics of Trauma

I don’t really want to write this. It feels a bit personal, a bit close to home, a bit attacking. It feels too grey – half consensual, half not. Half good, half not. But maybe it is the uncomfortable in-betweens we need to talk more about. The moments of pleasure laced with pain, the points where things that were okay all of sudden weren’t. The moments where your hands wrapped around my throat and I could no longer tell whether or not you wanted to fuck me or just hurt me. Maybe it is these conversations that are worth having.

You see, as soon as you start bringing criticism into the most gratifying, and sacred, and wonderful acts, you run the risk of swallowing the hardest truth of all. The awful, unflinching truth of how men as a whole have hurt women as a whole. And how even between the most gentle and considerate and passionate of lovers, one single movement can trigger centuries of trauma, embodied so deeply, the individual relationship barely registers enough to make it tolerable.

And this is how I felt. I felt scared. And I felt powerless. Because if you really wanted to hurt me, you could have. And I wouldn’t have been able to do fucking anything about it.

Don’t get me wrong, I like rough sex, as a general rule. But that’s the problem right, the general? Because sometimes I don’t. Sometimes when I don’t know you or trust you or love you, I don’t. I don’t like your hands around my neck. I don’t like you slapping me or pulling my hair. I don’t like you getting me only wet enough to shove yourself inside me. And I especially don’t like thinking that this is most likely how you’ve been taught to fuck women, and how they’ve probably never felt strong or desired or culturally valuable enough to disagree.

Because nobody wants to tell the man they are shagging that he is too rough, and that his version of sex is fucking degrading, and that you are literally praying for him to cum so this awful attempt at pleasure can cease to involve you. Especially, especially when you actually care about him. When outside the four walls of your bedroom, he is legitimately a nice guy, and what’s more, a nice guy who genuinely cares for you. No, you don’t want to tell him that his 3-1 ratio of orgasms is just plain old bad fucking manners, and yes, consent is sexy. Especially if he feels inclined to bring his cache of pornographic tricks into your sheets and quite literally up and inside your body. Then yeah, he should probably want to ask if it feels good.

The politics of trauma are blurry and complex and fucking messy. It is less about the individual, and more about the structural. The structural violence committed against women – the very real, and very terrifying fact, that most women experience sexual or domestic abuse at some point in their lives. The very real, and very terrifying fact, that most porn is less concerned with what feels good and safe for women than what looks arousing and pleasurable for men. The very real, and very terrifying fact, that most women have been virgin-fetishished, slut-shamed, or sexually objectified by every form of authority that pretends to care for them. The politics of trauma functions in a way that every act committed against women outside of the bedroom inevitably becomes a trigger for their emotional well-being within the bedroom. And yes, if they do not orgasm but you do, you have indirectly told them that their pleasure is worth less than yours. That what constitutes sex is your ejaculation, full stop.

And when you are rough with them in bed without their consent, you are assuming that they have never been violently touched before, that their best friend hasn’t been raped before, that their bodies have never been viciously thrown about before. You are assuming that in a culture where sexual and domestic abuse are devastatingly common rather than rare, that they do not have a multitude of triggers that inform how safe and sexually empowered they are. And I am not blaming you, I am truly not. Like I said, structural sexism does not inform every individual. The truth is most probably you love women, you care about their needs and their desires, you want them to feel protected and worthwhile and sexually satisfied. But if, perhaps, the first thing you want to do when you sleep with a woman is choke her out, then maybe you need to reconsider your relationship to that structure. And, if not, that doesn’t mean that the suffocating hand of patriarchal rule that has quite literally shamed and silenced her for thousands of years disappears because you do not personally adhere to it.

What it does mean is that you should tread carefully, always. You should defy, dismantle and smash the very systems and behaviours that oppress women. And you should always, always ask for consent before engaging in any act that might trigger a multitude of misogynistic wounds that haven’t quite had time to heal and perhaps in your lifetime won’t be able to. It means being more gentle than you think necessary, and more giving than you think equitable. And it means asking for feedback and taking it, without anger and defensiveness, without guilt-tripping and reverse-critiquing, but with complete willingness despite the fact that it is fucking uncomfortable and you would rather be personally absolved from it than accept yourself as systematic collateral in it. And it means having awkward conversations about those in-between moments, those grey areas, those half-good, half-not encounters because without them change will struggle to become meaningful, and sex will remain to be a space where raw, long-embodied and dormant traumas continue to rise to the surface.*

 

 

 

 

*This reads specific to one person, or one experience, or one night or whatever. But it isn’t. In fact it happens all the fucking time. And I know this cause when I am not pacifying men who I have and will inevitably hurt because gender ideology is fucking painful and uncomfortable and hurtful for everybody, I am talking with women who are just learning to open up with one another about things that have been so normalised and happen so frequently, they haven’t begun to ask themselves whether or not it was and is okay. And we are all still learning, and we will all continue to fuck up along the way, and nobody said the dialogue was going to be easy, but we should keep trying because it is worth it.x

Dating with Deadlines

I always told my best friend that she will know when I am in love because I will forfeit my next destination. Thus far I have lived in multiple cities and acquired multiple partners and have conveniently never missed a flight. It is not that I don’t care about these men, I do. But there is just something really fucking liberating about dating people with built-in deadlines. People I can like ambitiously and elaborately and carelessly without serious repercussions beyond tears shed at airports and messages of longing from faraway places.

I don’t think this means that I am scared of intimacy. In fact I kind of like it. I like the feeling of closeness, of irrationality, of wanting somebody so much that you begin to appraise your own behaviour through a fictitious imagining of how they might perceive it. I like the co-existence and weird obligations, the absurd thought processes and heightened sense of emotion. I like how weighted and consuming it all is, and how each person forces a shadow of your soul to momentarily surface and integrate itself into your being. But for me, at least right now, that just seems to pale in comparison to the freedom of casual commitments and elementary encounters with fate. The knowledge that nothing is set in stone, everything is fluid, open, possible, undetermined.

I date people with deadlines because like Walt Whitman, I am large, I contain multitudes. I want to be unoccupied space generating my own realities. And I want those realities to be non-negotiable, not to cater for perspectives beyond my own and not to be tied to the necessary and legitimate needs of other people. Sure sometimes I question the trajectory of the life I am supposed to want, the one where I am meant to tick certain boxes by certain ages and prove to the rest of the human race how socialised and successful I am. But the majority of the time, I am only thinking about death by rigidity. Death by complacency. Death by consenting to a life that neither challenges nor electrifies me. And how having a significant other has come to represent that for me.

Not that I think that this is necessarily accurate or common, only that it is how I have come to understand the world. The world of malaise. The world surrounded by adults who seem to have forgotten how to give a fuck about who they are and want they want, who prize the irresponsibility and sloppiness of youth and keep their lips locked tight on the realities of being a discontent and dismissed adult. That shit terrifies me, and the linear seed looks a lot like the beginning of a relationship, really fucking promising. So I date with time limits, expiry days, cut-off points. I date haphazardly and restlessly and intensely, and then I get on a plane and congratulate myself on making another narrow escape from the chains of a heterosexual, monogamous, nuclear partnership that would have probably ended in heartbreak.

I’m not cynical, I just don’t want to compromise unless I have something worth compromising for. So I book flights out before I arrive in, and I date people knowing that there will be an inevitable time where I will be forced to choose whether or not I am prepared to sacrifice the real for the speculative. And up until this point, there has never been a question. Theory wins out every time. I meet my deadlines and I never regret a fucking thing. And maybe that makes me cold, but the truth is, why should I buy the ice-cream truck when I can get the popsicles for free?

She For He

To the men I love.

I forget to say it sometimes, but

Thank you.

 

Most of the time I tell stories about men who have let me down. Today I want to tell you about men who have valued me, animated me, pleasured me, and grounded me. I want to tell you about men who have nurtured me, entertained me, cried with me, and given themselves to me just as much as I have given myself to them. Because loving deeply and vulnerably and elaborately is in their nature just as much as it is in mine.

Let me tell you about the time a man said to me it is a pleasure to listen to you speak. Or the time a man I barely knew told me my writing was beautiful. Or the man who asked whether he could move half way across the world for me.

Let me tell you about the man who has let me live at his house more times than I can count. Or the man who taught me how to roll cigarettes because he knew I was too proud to ask. Or the man who still makes me laugh more than any other person I’ve ever met.

Let me tell you about the man who wrote me a six-page letter after we broke up. Or the man who cried when I left for the airport. Or the man who stood by me when the ground was slipping out from beneath my feet and not once made me feel like I was inadequate.

These are the men I know, and these are the men I love.

Sometimes I forget to remind myself that for every one man who has hurt me, five others have held me up. And sometimes it is easy to reprimand men in the process of raising women up, but gender ideology doesn’t always equate to perfect reality. And if I am truthful about my experiences, then I must be truthful when I say that some of the most compassionate, nurturing, and thoughtful people I know are men.

Men who are forced to wear the shortcomings of those they are nothing alike. Men who go out of their way to demonstrate respect and give affection not because they have to, but because it is who they are. To those men, I want to say thank you. You do not go unnoticed, you do not go under appreciated, and you are some of the greatest people I have had the pleasure of calling my lovers, my brothers, and my friends.

He for She. And She for He. Love is, love is, love is. Love.x

 

Feminists don’t date cunts. And cunts aren’t radicals.

At the age of sixteen I became determined to understand my own social reality as a woman and in the process vowed to never consciously let a man devalue me. In due time feminist literature allowed me to intellectually understand sexuality and relationships, and empowered me to believe in a radically different version of how love and sex should be. A decade later I would throw that to the wind and participate in possibility the most disrespectful and destructive relationship I have ever engaged in. 

I got involved with a man who was ideologically sound, but emotionally void. Ridiculously intelligent, but punishing to those who did not exact his view. I fell for a man who respected feminism, but did not respect me. A man for whom in order to like him, I had to dislike myself. And I did, often.   

You see, it is easy to condemn a man who doesn’t adhere to your worldview, but how do you navigate space when you love somebody for their politics, but not for their person? When you cannot fathom how somebody so radical in every other sense of the word could actually be so ruthlessly closed minded when it came to you? You can’t, you don’t. You think you are missing something, and that missing something is you. Your weakness, your limitations, your fault. And therefore, you silence yourself, you stop asking questions. You live and breathe on eggshells wondering where the fuck you went wrong.

From the very beginning the red flags were obvious, and yet I quietly accepted his contradictions motivated purely by the belief that what connected us was deeper than our personal selves. We were on the same team. We were both fighting for a more compassionate and just society. He was a good man. He just needed a little more time, a little more space, a little more amnesty. Personal change would come, I just needed to back off, shut my mouth, deny my reservations. Change would come from understanding, not from challenging. And besides he was a radical, and a radical cannot be a misogynist.

But misogyny, particularly by a lover, is harder to define than systematic sexism. It is subtle, interlaced with ambiguity and muddled by affection. It comes out in off hand remarks, specific nonchalant behaviours, particularly vulnerable moments. It doesn’t need to be physically felt, or verbally spoken, or consistently displayed. Instead it is artful, pungent and delivered so gently you wonder if you perhaps misunderstood the entire thing. Yet when you replay the incident and when you eventually gather your bearings, you feel sick. Sick that it was just delicate enough to render you powerless; sick that if vocally communicated it would be suffocated by references to misinterpretation, overreaction, and delusion. He would tell you that you’re crazy, and in that moment you would be forced to trust him because you would be too far gone to trust yourself.

What I have now learned from this particularly toxic relationship is that revolutionary ideas that do not become lived realities are dangerous. In thinking that I was strong enough to handle his contradictions, perhaps even eventually be able to change them, I suffered more personal anxiety and shame than in any other relationship I have ever been in. Even those I would hardly call nurturing. In the end I suppressed my sexuality, denied my spirituality, and silenced my voice. I slept with other men to validate myself. I was cold, calculated, and cruel. And I was hurting. Constantly. Hurting and punishing myself for being so fucked up. Because a feminist isn’t allowed to be fucked up. She has to be strong, sure, a beacon, a realist. She doesn’t date cunts. And cunts aren’t radicals. 

If I could do my time again, I would take heed of the signs. Remember that the personal is always political. Recognise that my strength is not just in fighting, but also in walking away. Walking away from situations, experiences and people that seek to undermine me, harden me, cut me off from my own instincts. I would walk away knowing that some contradictions are best left untouched, and that some paradoxes may never heal.

Because everybody thinks they know the difference between a good man and a bad man. A bad man is scary, violent, antisocial, and immoral. He doesn’t show affection or passion or purpose. A bad man cannot love. He cannot aid, he cannot inspire. And he certainly cannot vote green. But the truth is women have been taught to see the best in people. From childhood they have been culturally force-fed the belief that it just takes one strong woman to change a man, that through her compassion and understanding anything is possible. That love triumphs all. So we have stayed. We have stayed in toxic relationships with toxic people, always blaming ourselves for not being worthy enough to alter the circumstances. Always thinking that if we were more forgiving, nurturing, powerful, sexy, none of this would ever have happened. If we were more they would be less. Less callous, less demeaning, less wounding. And we have suffered deeply for it. 

Paralysed by this dangerous fallacy, we have loved men who belittle us, silence us, and humiliate us and rather than blaming them, we have blamed ourselves. Yes the contradiction exists, but it is not yours to fix and it will never be. And whilst it is easy to tell you to walk away, I do not expect that you can. Not yet. Not until you realise that the validation you so desperately seek from him will never come, no matter how much love, forgiveness and compassion you sacrifice in the process. Not until you understand that it is not our job to heal the broken or change the paradox, it is our job to stand tall in our own dignity and love only those who are worthy of the gift. And there are people who are worthy, they are the men you love for who they actually are and not whom you fictitiously desire they might one day become. They are the men who require no pardon because they would never seek to deliberately harm. And they are the men who do not make you hate yourself in order to love them.

Arohanui sisters, I see you. Your power may be dimmed, but the light never ceases to burn.

The Scorned Woman

Recently the guy I was seeing started fucking another girl, which I found out about after the fact. After crying hysterically for about 4 hours, due in part to the bottle of cleanskin I was slaying, I sat down to consider how I really felt about the situation; which was complex, ambivalent, subject to contradiction. Was I a victim? A participant? Scorned? Ashamed? Grateful?

On the one hand I felt relief, our relationship was tumultuous, always swinging between wanting and distancing. Unpredictable, and thus often incredibly hurtful. Basically everything I swore I would no longer participate in. On the other hand I felt betrayed, volatile, vengeful. What kind of 27-year-old liberal thinks that kind of shit is appropriate. I mean come on, you know better than that. Then I felt sad, like oh poor me, my quasi-boyfriend has left me for somebody else. Then I felt angry, like oh my poor vagina, you’re not going to get fucked for a while.

And this stream of mixed emotion continued for a couple of days until I decided I was bored and wanted something better to think about. So I considered the idea that maybe being a remorseful perpetrator and a heartbroken victim is actually really fucking fetishy. Like a special character reference for people who are scared of intimacy. Oh I am such a bad boy, I cheated on this girl and hurt her and I didn’t mean too and now I am really sorry. But I’m not actually because I’m secretly also real fucked up so I’m allowed to inflict pain because I’m hurting too. And, oh this boy cheated on me, now I am all heart broken and feeling sorry for myself because now I can’t participate in this wildly unhealthy relationship and blame all the shit things I am feeling on another person. Which basically sums up how masochistic the whole thing was anyway.

So now I am at a crossroads, in limbo. I am the scorned woman. And maybe I want to be petty about it. But I am also an in love with love empath and want to be okay with it. I mean it isn’t actually a reflection of my own significance, but a deeper reflection on how much society and our dysfunctional parents fuck us up, how we self-sabotage true intimacy for surface pleasure, how we revel in the idea of complete innocence when somebody does something more frowned upon, and how we will avoid being honest with ourselves because it is easier to pretend that the circumstances are different than what they truly are.

Because the truth is finding out somebody started seeing another person whilst they were seeing you hurts. It unhinges your sense of worth and unbalances the carefully constructed framework in which you present yourself to the world. And it momentarily makes you feel powerless, like life happened to you without your permission and you were forced to take the blow. And that makes it really fucking easy to feel like a casualty, a casualty that lacks context and never had any agency to begin with.

But what really happened between this person and I was nothing more than two people who weren’t quite sure how to communicate how we actually felt. Who lacked the credible role models and raw platforms to express the complexity of emotion we were experiencing. Which was unsure, paradoxical, fluid. Sure we liked each other, but it wasn’t as simple as that, as it never is. Some days we felt strong in our own convictions, other days we felt claustrophobic, caged in. Bitterly disappointed by our own ideologies that it felt easier to withhold the truth than sacrifice the illusion.

Being the woman left behind, I do not consider myself exempt. I pushed when I should have pulled and closed down when I should have opened. I was blurry with my boundaries and reckless with both of our needs. In trying to prove I was capable of committing to something that didn’t have an expiry date, I strung along something that was always destined to forcefully erupt. That I knew was toxic but kept ingesting anyway.

As he always said: violent delights have violent ends, and in their triumph die. But it was a death that didn’t need happen. At least not the way it did. In concealing our own uncertainty and pretending that intimacy is always black and white, we danced our own destruction and found little satisfaction in the consequences. And for this, I too am sorry. Yes, he cheated. But so did I. I cheated because I knew it wasn’t right but I kept it going anyway. I cheated my own integrity and in the process I cheated his. Yes, he fucked up. But so did I. And in the end we both lost a game that should never have been played in the first place. 

Avoiding Unwanted Sexual Experiences

consent

Almost every single woman I know has had a sexual experience that she didn’t want to have. I wouldn’t call it assault. It was consensual. I mean they didn’t say no.

Except they probably did, at some point, just not when or how it is understood to matter.

There is a skewed belief that a) a woman is not an inherently a sexual person i.e is not subject to the same degree of want or need and b) can thus say no at any point. This is not only wildly incorrect, it is also potentially dangerous. For women there comes a point where you feel like you can no longer say no, where perhaps to a certain degree and for a myriad of reasons you no longer actually want to. At least, not in the physical sense of the word.

The scenario reminds me of romantic comedies from the nineties where the boy is on the bed trying to convince his girlfriend to sleep with him for the first time, and she keeps visibly resisting him but then appears to change her mind and goes along with it instead, and everybody considers this a good thing, an overcoming of an obstacle, an obvious score. This is the equivalent of modern day consent. She has said no more than once via verbal and bodily cues but in the interim of those attempts her arousal or perhaps waning self-assurance in that particular moment hits a point where she allows short-term physical gratification to override long-term psychological comfort. And to be honest, I am not sure that this can be considered truly consensual. She has said no, more than once, and after the first time, complete cessation of trying should have been the normative course of action. So why don’t we actually do that?

I don’t think that this is specific to men either. I think women also push the boundaries in terms of consent as well, with each individual using the socialisation and stereotypes of their gender to unfairly obtain what they want at the expense of the other person’s blatant hesitation. Men the accepted behaviour of sexual tenacity and women the Darwinian idea that men want to fuck all the time, and therefore should have no qualms fucking them.

In this sense, I think consent is layered; it is both psychological and it is physical. And if a person has verbally or nonverbally (this is easy, this is obvious) expressed that they do not want to sleep with you at any point during your time together, that is them expressing psychologically non-consent. That is them saying no. And since it has been stated during a more rational, perhaps less heightened state of arousal, it needs to be taken seriously because anything that happens beyond that may be relatively lawful in terms of physical consent, but super blurry in terms of psychological consent and just general ethical behaviour.

From what I understand, women have the majority of their unwanted sexual experiences when they have loosely physically consented to something, but psychologically (either verbally or non-verbally) have not. Essentially they have found themselves in a physical position that makes actually saying no right before sex really difficult, and then woken up the next day or the next week or the next year, feeling in some way really violated by the experience. Especially if they felt in any way coaxed into it despite protestations earlier in the course of the evening.

Avoiding unwanted sexual experiences can thus begin with an awareness that consent must be granted from the beginning of the interaction right until the very end, that it should, if possible, be discussed before any physical intimacy takes place, and that using stereotypical behaviours that have traditionally been considered acceptable are actually pretty fucking questionable and should never be employed to get something that you (erroneously) think you are entitled too.

Make love, not trauma. And remember you can always say no, at any time, in any place.

The Sexual Lives of Women

I Like Fucking

You are thirteen years old. You just had sex with Billy. Billy is three years older than you. Billy has a small dick and fucked you for approximately 2 minutes. You wanted to know whether that was it, but Billy has already put his pants on and is calling Sally. Sally is a virgin, Billy likes that. Billy is the man. And you’re a slut.

You are sixteen years old. You have learnt that you have to pretend you don’t like sex because a guy needs to believe you are frigid to get a hard on. So you make your boyfriend wait six months before putting out. Now he totally thinks you are worth it.

You are eighteen years old. This boy has been pursuing you for months. You’re not that keen, but he makes you feel good, makes you feel wanted. You didn’t like him to begin with, but finally you come around. You sleep together because that’s what you have been told boys want. But then he never speaks to you again.

You are twenty years old. You want sex. But why the fuck would you open a can of worms if there was only one worm in there? You wouldn’t. But you know men like tasting all the different worms from all the different cans. Especially the cans that have never been opened. So you open the can of worms and pretend that that one worm was all you ever wanted. Secretly you’re fucking starving.

You are twenty three years old. All your friends have put all their eggs in one basket. Smart girls, that’s sex on tap. You’re bored, you want to fuck. Except you don’t want to appear too keen. That makes you cheap. Cheap and needy. Your body is your currency, the longer you keep it in the bank, the higher the market value. You decide to masturbate instead.

You are twenty five years old. Men your age want to fuck children. Children seven years their junior. Children who haven’t learnt what good sex feels like, haven’t learnt how to ask for it. You decide to have sex with John. John thinks if he fucks you more than three times, it’s a relationship. John is stupid.

You are twenty eight years old. Your ex-boyfriend only wanted to fuck once a week. Never in the mornings though, he hadn’t showered. You decide to have sex with a boy five years your junior. Now you’re a cougar. A dirty, desperate cougar who can’t get a man her own age.

You are thirty one years old. You’re biological clock is ticking. All the good men are married or fucking undergrads. You meet Harry. Harry seems nice. Harry gets a boner whenever your sister walks into the room. You decide to marry Harry.

“Including Women and Children”: Re-examining the Language of War

The periphery of history has never been unfamiliar to us. Probing through the contents of historical literature one might easily assume that every major shift in the global landscape could have or perhaps did occur entirely in the absence of women. Minus the necessity, which is in no way to be mistaken for the inviolability, of our reproductive organs, it would not be too daring to imagine that until quite recently we never actually existed at all. If we are to take history quite seriously, and I believe we all have been taught that we should, then we would be within reason to assume that the female nature has an instinctive, no doubt evolutionary, inclination towards passivity, inertia. It seems to quite naturally just step out of the way to let the great civiliser determine the direction and bounds of human fruition. Even if that means the inevitable destruction of all that stands between Him and the immensity of His enterprise: “Including women and children.”

The absurdity of the above statement is only absurd because it is not. It is familiar, comfortable, implicitly understood. It ties together our cache of cultural understandings about who we are and what we occupy, our role in society both as realised and imagined persons and the degree to which these perceptions have distorted the truth about the contribution and indeed reality of women. It suggests an extricable link between that of a woman and that of a child. Both vulnerable, both innocent. Both exerting the same degree of influence and subject to the same bounds of existence. It uses a language that distorts the perpetrator and obscures the victim, as if any living being can remain perfectly neutral in a world of ever moving forces and ever changing allegiances.

No, war does not happen to women. War is sustained, perpetuated, and besieged in the name of and by the hands of women. It is inflicted on them but it is also inflicted by them. It is made possible because of their labour but inexcusable because of their loss. Whether they are ‘ours’, of home, or ‘theirs’, of elsewhere, women are integral to the morality and feasibility of what could otherwise not be. Who maintains the motherland when the men are at war? The culture, the traditions, the soil, the future? What precisely are the men fighting for but that which the women are sustaining through the very activity of their existence? And who among us all has not loved another deeply enough to consider the integrity, the bitter toxicity of such archaic and repugnant practices that mercilessly sacrifice those whom we hold most dear?

No, war does not include “women”; war exists because women exist. And yet why would we continue to believe that the death of a female civilian is any more more tragic than the death of a male one if we didn’t also implicitly believe that women were still the mere causalities of their husbands, their fathers, their sons, and their countries? A thing to be exacted upon, rather than a force to be reckoned with. And why would women so quietly, so unreservedly tolerate a language that silently divests and absolves them of all participation, of all responsibility? That tells them they are not a crucial part of the action but a pitiable consequence of it if they themselves didn’t also underestimate their own contribution to the global human story? For as long as women continue to see themselves as causalities of their own lives, this world will never see peace.

As women, and as the men who love us, we must unearth, reclaim and reimagine the role that the sacred feminine has played throughout time immemorial. Both as a life-giving and as a life-destroying force. We must refuse to be relieved of, and to relieve ourselves, our engagement with history in which our voice has been traditionally ascribed to the margins, to the role of observer. We must take equal responsibility for the heinous crimes we have previously committed as well as equal responsibility for the heinous crimes that are now within our power to stop. We must coherently and thoroughly examine what it means to be female and what it means to be human, and align ourselves accordingly. Yes, war exists, but it does not “include women”, it is an essential part of, a wretched consequence of, and a deplorable tragedy because of and in virtue of women. It has survived due to their strength and their solidarity and now it must also cease to be because of their strength and their solidarity. Together we constitute the soul of humankind, and together we must heal that which no longer serves the great compassion that resides within us all.