Maenads of the (R)Evolution

Going Mad and Taking You With Us (Since 2012)

Decency

I’ve noticed something of late.

A lot of discussion about behavior in social justice circles has circled on what’s “decent.” As in, respecting people’s identity or acknowledging their struggles is the bare minimum requirement to be a decent human being.

And I’ve noticed a lot of pushback from folks on this.

“You’re saying I’m a monster just because I don’t want to use your pronouns!” seems to be the general cry.

Well, no.

Decency isn’t a pass/fail. It’s not something you have or you don’t.

You might, in fact, be a perfectly decent person — when dealing with animals. Or one marginalized group, but not another. Or only with privileged folks.

The fact that you’re unwilling to attempt to treat other human beings as if they have a right to exist doesn’t erase ALL of your decency. It just means that those of us who are being erased, marginalized, hurt by your words are not going to see the other sides of you that may be decent. Or particularly care that they exist.

This goes double for when you’re posting on the internet. I can’t see your time volunteering at the local ASPCA or donating to Battered Women’s Support Services; I can see only you whining about how using pronouns is so difficult; I can see only you setting yourself up as the expert on overculture in a particular country; I can see only you moving goalposts in the discussion and erecting so many straw men you could start several festivals in the desert.

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Respecting Agency

The first step to building a better world — a culture of respect, a culture of consent, a culture of strong, empowered people and awesome relationships — is respecting each other’s agency.

Individualism gets its horn tooted a lot, and it’s held up as a veritable god, the central figure of the North American cult of Bootstraps. But there’s some disconnect here — whereas many people are quick to shout to the heavens about everyone being an island, they never got any help, why should you, they’re not so quick to shout to the heavens about respecting the agency of individuals.

If you get assaulted, it’s also your fault — it’s not the fault of the other individuals who didn’t respect your agency, your boundaries, who didn’t seek your consent. You’re expected to fend off all these attackers with a single glance from your world-weary eye, one blow from your sharpened tongue.

Related to that, if people define you wrong — if they disrespect the definitions and labels you have chosen for yourself — that’s also your fault. Why do you fit so well into the definitions we’ve built up in our heads, we ask, if you didn’t want to be defined that way? If you don’t wish to be called something, stop acting / looking /thinking / being like how we perceive / define that thing.

We get this message in childhood — “If you don’t want to be called a wild cat / disobedient child / crazy person, stop acting like one” — and it continues into adulthood, where we take it, internalize it, and use it as a weapon against others.

The paternalistic belief that we can define other people for them. The refusal to accept that they reject those definitions, those labels; the refusal to respect their agency as they choose their own markers.

Recently Star Foster relinquished the term pagan. She’d blogged within pagandom, as a pagan, for several years, but she’s finally realized that word no longer fits her. She can no longer consider herself pagan.

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BDSM, Abuse, and 50 Shades of Grey

If you want a good primer on how to identify abuse-masquerading-as-BDSM, you could read 50 Shades of Grey and take notes on Christian’s behavior.

I wish I were kidding.

The thing is, it’s very easy for people who know nothing about BDSM save what they’ve read of a few Gor novels or, possibly, 50 Shades, to categorize all expressions of it as abusive, or woman-hating.

Because, you see, the kink subculture is a microcosm of our larger culture. And our larger culture is abusive and woman-hating. So you’re going to get  a lot of that sort of shit — the tropes of kinkdom, I call them. The male-dom/fem-sub dynamic seen as the only TWUE way; the view of submissive as subhuman; the equation of submissive to “liking pain and humiliation” and vice versa; the belief that all women are naturally submissive and would be so much happier if they would just submit to a Domly Dom who would show them their TWUE nature; an actually abusive relationship that uses BDSM as a cover-up. You’re going to get these tropes, and worse ones, as much as you’re going to find sex-positive, queer-positive, liberating, non-tropey expressions of BDSM. More, in fact.

I’ve been through two abusive relationships that used BDSM to cover up the abuse. (And one other fairly vanilla relationship that was abusive.) They were so pernicious that I didn’t realize what was happening until far after the fact. I didn’t even realize that because these relationships were my introduction to BDSM I ended up letting my true nature as a domme be subsumed under my partners’ needs for me to submit. The fact that I enjoy being topped made it easier.

Towards the end of the first relationship, we were talking seriously about doing 24/7 Master/slave relationship, complete with collaring ceremony for me. I didn’t even know enough about myself to know that I’d never do that with a human being (gods are another matter). I was so enamored with my first boyfriend, oh my gods you mean a man actually finds me attractive what the hell I should settle for him, that I didn’t take any of my own needs into consideration. I let him manipulate and use me to his own ends, and then I lashed out and did really crazy shit that eventually led to his dumping me (and thank the gods for that).

When I was on the rebound from him, I met another guy who proceeded to put me through psychological torture for six months before telling me I was just an easy lay and that’s all he’d ever wanted from me. During those six months we were long-distance, and I wore a collar for him. To this day I get nightmares about him, and I can’t speak his name without having a minor panic attack.

So when I read the recaps of 50 Shades of Grey at Jenny Trout’s blog, and saw all the excerpts of the book…first, I was really glad I’d decided to read the recaps before picking up the book myself, because now I know it would have triggered the hells out of me. Second, I was horrified. Continue reading

Human Rights are for Everybody — Even our Monsters

Trigger warning: discussion of rape, rape culture, ableism

“He killed someone. In my opinion he shouldn’t have any rights.”

“When she decided to take a life, she decided to give up her rights.”

I see this attitude a lot. A lot more in pagandom than I’d like to, frankly. I guess people don’t realize how many things are so incredibly problematic with that idea.

For one, you can’t shade it. The idea that committing a crime causes someone to forfeit their human rights requires black and white thinking.

But the people who say this don’t want to admit that, oh no. If you question them on their position — “Do you think the same way about someone who robs a bank?” — they’ll evade, hem and haw. “Well it’s not that simple; nothing’s black and white; it’s a situational thing.”

Yet every time someone gets killed, you see this same attitude get trotted out by the same people.

Because all deaths are exactly the same. Because murderers don’t need help. They’re just evil. Or mentally ill, and obviously mentally ill people shouldn’t have rights. Like you, Morag. You shouldn’t have rights.

Do you see this slippery slope we’re on?

That’s not all, though. There’s more wrong with this picture.

“When she decided to take a life, she decided to give up her rights.”

Oh, so she’s no longer entitled to a fair trial, in a court of law, by a jury of her peers? She’s no longer entitled to due process

Well that makes things simple. Just throw her in the electrical chair! Don’t have to pay to feed and clothe her or rehabilitate her. We’ll just kill her, so people know that killing people is wrong, and you get punished for it.

Of course, this is what people are getting at when they say criminals have given up their rights. They are saying that murderers should not go to jail, because it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars. They’re saying we should just kill these people.

Still want to tell me it’s not black and white thinking?

But wait. There’s more.  Continue reading

Welcome to the Madness

Maenads of the (R)Evolution came about when Danny told me she wanted to create a blog with me about paganism, feminism, queerness, kink, and the intersections and permutations thereof. Mindfuck happened, and MaRE was born.

And when I say mindfuck, I probably mean quite literally because the name for the site just popped into my head when I was pondering Dionysos, like some great divine jet of love-gravy.