A captive songbird’s exhausted lament

I don’t have a way
to make enough noise
to block this cacophonous roar

I could take a shot
or get myself high
but that’s not what I’m looking for

Just get me to sleep
as long as I need
I don’t wanna deal with this crap

A cage which is comfy
and covered in gold;
at th’end of the day’s still a trap

Don’t lose sight of potential mastermind; remember when you were young? (Feel the power, see the energy…)

All heterosexual intercourse is rape. Obviously — I mean, we all know that men have more power in this world than women — as far as political power, and having their desires addressed and met, and for the most part men are physically stronger than women, too. Even when it comes to finances, men still have the upper hand. There’s just no way to claim that a man having sex with a woman isn’t exploiting a power imbalance.  Okay, sure, there are women who say that they’re freely choosing to be involved sexually with men, that it’s completely consensual… and I suppose that it’s at least possible to allow them their stories and to acknowledge that they genuinely believe that they weren’t raped if they say they weren’t… but at the same time, it’s critical to condemn all men who have sex with women, for knowingly taking advantage of them.

All sex work is exploitative; it’s not even a huge stretch to say that it’s paid rape. The fact that you have someone with money — which essentially equates to control — and they’re using that control to get the sex that they want… well, what else could you call that but coerced, forced, exploited?! I mean, okay, fine, there are sex workers who say that they choose to do the work they do, or that they have control over their own situations, or maybe that they feel comfortable with their particular means of income, but how does that possibly square with the obvious exploitative, controlling nature of the job? Maybe it’s possible to say that these people feel like they’re doing okay, or that they’re making the best out of a difficult situation or that they’ve looked at their limited options and chosen the least horrible of those options. But that doesn’t excuse anyone who chooses to use the controlling power of money to patronize these types of workers.


Still with me? Good. Hopefully those last two paragraphs made you sick — maybe fueled up a little bit of rage at the complete bullshit they’re made of, or left you wanting to start penning an angry rant in reply to point out just how completely flawed and horribly wrong pretty much everything in them is? It was certainly tough for me to write all that crap.

But how about this? Compare and contrast:

All sex — in fact, all relationships, period, between people whose ages are significantly different… is rape. It’s exploitative for someone older, bigger, stronger, with more money and power, to prey on someone vulnerable and weak. Oh, and if one of those people happens to be under a particular randomly-chosen magic number age defining (in any particular region) what constitutes an “adult”? Well, then let’s lock the older of them up forever, throw away they key, and visit every kind of horrible torture on them! What kind of horrible person would dare to use a child like that?! I mean, okay, sure, there might be some people who say that they were willing participants, that they chose to fuck and don’t regret it, and maybe we can believe that they don’t feel like they were exploited… but we absolutely must condemn the sickening perverted freaks who would exploit someone powerless and vulnerable like that! I mean, that kind of difference in power and wealth means that anything you do is inherently imbalanced, and it’s impossible to say “yes” and mean it since it’s just as impossible to say “no.”

Most of the thoughts in this post have been rolling around in my head for quite some time, with the idea that I’d blog about them at some point. But with the internet blowing up about a supposed “child rapist” the last week or two, it gave me the little bit of a push to finally sit down and write.

So, you want to claim that at 13, 14, 15, it’s impossible for someone to know what they want? I mean, okay, that they know what they want sexually? Because of course it’s not all that impossible to know what your desires are regarding music or fashion or entertainment or pretty much anything else… and by middle school we expect at least the beginnings of a life plan (college, career, get started now so you can get into the best school for the job that you’ve decided on!) but sex is its own special category completely separate from everything else. Or… wait, I thought that sex was just one of many things we can do with our bodies, which is why “sex work is work” and not some inherently degrading and dirty thing just because there’s sex involved?! Sure, I suppose that since we do a damned fine job of preventing access to accurate, honest, non-judgmental information about sex to pretty much everyone until way past when it would actually be useful, so that we can continue to believe in the myth of “innocent” and “pure” little children… then yeah, it’s likely that most 14-year-olds aren’t going to know what they want in terms of sex, and they’re not going to have the best skills for negotiating what they want. But the solution isn’t to act as if anyone who chooses to listen and respond favorably to a young adult with sexual needs is somehow the worst kind of pervert monster rapist… but to instead arm our youth with more knowledge and more power and more ability to make choices for themselves! And, to borrow a phrase, “I’m not saying that a person is the smartest they’re gonna be at 14…” but it certainly seems to me that if we started treating people as if they had the capacity to make decisions for themselves, and then providing tools and resources for them to make the best decisions they could, and allowed them the decisions they made, acknowledged those decisions as valid — even when they differ from the decisions we might make for ourselves — that we’d be a lot better off. Even if that choice is to be sexually interested in, or sexually involved with someone older (and potentially more sexually experienced, hey! Imagine, maybe it’d be more satisfying to fuck someone who has an idea of what they’re doing than someone fumbling cluelessly?) than they are. And we’d be a lot closer to having an answer to the very important question: “how old is 15 really?

Who can say what we’ll find, what lies waiting down the line?

I’ve been putting this post off for a while, now. Too long. Been finding excuses, reasons, explanations. It’s time.

QotU died on the 1st of December this year.

The Rabbit has been putting on a brave face, but I know that it’s hit her hard — I mean, losing a spouse you’ve been with for a few decades isn’t an easy thing, any way you slice it. I, for one, was not tremendously surprised to find that my first and most significant emotional response was one of… relief. As my mom quite diplomatically phrased it, “you two didn’t have a particularly cordial relationship,” which is an understatement if there ever was one, but — even so, I was still sad for The Rabbit at her loss. I even arranged for the local Bluegrass group I’ve been going to see for a few years to sing a tune in her memory; I wasn’t able to be there for it, but I figure since QotU wasn’t there either, it’s still just as meaningful.

I’ve been thinking about times that I have heard news of someone’s death and felt anything other than sadness. There have been very few — three, as far as I can recall. The first was when I heard that one of the guys I lived with had died from, apparently, pneumonia or bronchitis or some other lung-related problem, but considering not only the number of cigarettes he smoked daily but all the other drugs he did, all the extreme partying… I wasn’t shocked. I also didn’t part ways with him or his roommate on any pleasant notes, and I wasn’t thrilled that he was dead… but I wasn’t disappointed, either.

The second time was when I leaned that a therapist I’d had for a while, one I had dealt with significant abuse from, and later learned that I was not the only one to have been harmed by her… when I heard that Valerie Igl had died… I celebrated, because finally she could no longer harm anyone. I have no reservations about naming her here, about refusing to give her an alias, because not only is she dead but she was a cruel and harmful person, and I want to let anyone else who searches for her name and ends up here to know that they were not alone or unique in being traumatized by her. Claiming to be a great “ally” to trans* people (though she was fond of mentioning that she had once been dubbed a “honorary trans* person” which is just… eww) and claiming to be supportive of and friendly toward kinky people, folks who practice BDSM and such, though she was anything but “friendly” and certainly far from “knowledgeable.” She’s also the only mental health professional who slept — or at least appeared to sleep — through nearly every single hour-long session we had together. I still went, because even being able to rant about the shit I was dealing with at the time to an inanimate object was helpful… but nearly every time, I’d go put a few hours into self-therapy in the form of window shopping and browsing around bookstores. Calming myself down so that I could go back home again.

And the third was less than a month ago, when the first thing I heard when I woke with a hangover after a night of significant drinking… was that QotU was gone. And, as I said, I mostly felt relief. This was a woman who had screamed at me for “keeping The Rabbit out so late” and thretened to kick me out on the street regardless of what arrangement I had with The Rabbit — all because The Rabbit had said she was more than happy to pick me up after I had an enjoyable night out for a change. This was quite some time ago, mind, but it stuck with me. Things got less horrible at the point where I asked The Rabbit to pass along to QotU that if she would stop interacting with me entirely, I’d do the same… but a stalemate wasn’t exactly an ideal solution either.

So. In the last nearly 4 weeks, plenty else has happened, too. Some of it has been extremely good — like finding that my new therapist is absolutely wonderful, that we work well together, and she’s really sweet and understanding. And there’s the fact that while The Rabbit went out of town to visit her sister, as she does every few months, she paid me to look after her house and her cat — which to me meant essentially being paid to have a nice vacation! The entire time from Monday afternoon all the way through early Saturday morning just after Christmas, I had the house all to myself. I was able to keep things nice and dark (which had the added benefit of keeping the place almost 10 degrees warmer, which also meant not needing to have the stupid fucking central heating turned on full-blast the entire time) and I got to chill out and relax for a change. I mean, early Tuesday morning, I realized that I was singing, spontaneously, improvising a sing-song narration of what I was doing and feeling. That hasn’t happened for the longest time, and it was both beautiful and terrifying to realize that it took less than 24 hours away from The Rabbit to leave me feeling not just “okay” but “absolutely fabulous.”

But then! Tuesday afternoon, a few days before Christmas, I had a first date with an incredibly sexy, incredibly intelligent, incredibly witty, incredibly… incredible… woman I’d been chatting with for a bit after she sent me a message on OkCupid a few weeks ago. Just a wild guess, but I figure if a “first date” leads to spending over 30 hours’ worth of time nonstop in someone else’s company and both of you feeling like it was far too short, and wishing it didn’t have to end… that’s a good sign! And at this point it seems like we’re each having thoughts about long-term goals together — and who knows where time will take us, but for now, let me introduce Moonbeam. She’s been a beautiful ray of light shining into my life, which has been more than welcome after so long alone in cold, cruel darkness. It’s been over 2 years since I walked away from MFP, thinking — at the time — that we could take a break from each other so that there was some chance of salvaging something from the wreckage later on. MFP made sure that wasn’t ever going to be possible, sadly.

Moonbeam, though — and I’m trying to be cautious, trying to remind myself that making significant decisions while intoxicated with NRE isn’t the best move, and that it’s still really early in our relationship — she makes sense. And she seems to have a firm grasp on so many concepts that I’m used to having to school people on; I don’t need to try to walk her through the basics of gender beyond an oversimplified binary, or try to get her to understand why I fight for the rights of people with marginalized identities, or deal with being shamed by her for enjoying what I enjoy and loving the way I love. We’re planning to spend New Year’s Eve together, watching fireworks and sharing a kiss at midnight… then sharing the next day together, too. I can’t think of a much better way to welcome a new year than in the arms of an adorable, passionate woman who loves me.

So, yes, sometimes even from the ashes of our lives, something new and interesting and even brave springs up and thrives in its place. We keep on going, even if that’s occasionally without knowing we’re headed down the wrong path — but if we have hope, and a will to keep trying, we’ll make it through, somehow.

Losing love is like a window in your heart; everybody sees you’re blown apart.

So. It’s been about a week and a half now since my last visit ever with the therapist I had been seeing for almost 3 and a half years. It was the end of the longest relationship I’ve had with anyone; MFP and I were together just over a year, and I’m pretty sure that I met The Rabbit shortly after I got started seeing that therapist.

She passed along the number of a group of therapists in the area, a group she had nothing but praise for. I’m still in the process of back-and-forth phone tag and trying to get set up with a first appointment, although I’ve already done the preliminary “intake” stuff. As rocky as this has been, it’s unquestionably better than starting from scratch with no leads — I’ve been there before, and when I was in bad shape. Not an “adventure” I care to revisit.

During our last session she said, “I have been forever changed by knowing you, and my life will continue to be impacted by the time we have spent together.” It was beautiful to hear her make it as clear as she possibly could that she gained as much from our relationship as I did. She pointed out that in our sessions, I had “constantly brought nothing but raw honesty,” and told me how much she appreciated that. “It’s all I have ever asked,” she said, “and you have done exactly that.” We both said how much we would miss each other… and I really do miss her. She’s been one of the very few people — if not perhaps the only person who has been a consistent, reliable, rock; someone I could depend on when very little else in my life has been certain. In reply to the worry I expressed about losing that certainty, that foundation, she had this to say:

“You deserve people in your life who are dependable, reliable, honest. I hope you know how much good you deserve. And it will come, in time.”

I asked her if I could have a hug before I left, to which she enthusiastically agreed. It was a startling realization, that I hadn’t thought about the fact we’d never touched in the years we’d known each other, not even a handshake. Even more startling was the effort it took to hold back from kissing her full on the lips afterwards.  I mean, I had never denied to myself that I found her incredibly attractive, and I had made a point quite some time back to tone down what I recognized as my frequent compliments bordering on flirtation… but it was still a bit of a shock just how much of an instinctive reaction it was.

Of course, that may have at least as much to do with the fact that I’m still not getting laid, with only a few mediocre interactions every few months or more — and plenty of times that other women show interest but never follow up, never get in touch. I’m lonely. And I wonder if that shows, if it’s something so obvious to those around me, like a window in my heart — the clear view right through to love lost.

“ACTUALLY, it’s about ethics in rental properties!

So, I got this reply to one of my craigslist ads a couple days ago.

image

Not only has this dude emailed me just to mansplain why I’m wrong in the way I express my own needs — which has nothing to do with offering me a place to live — he’s made sure I have no idea of his name. Usually if you’re replying to a craigslist ad, it still shows the name attached to your email address, even though it  anonymises the address itself. This guy shows up as “craigslist reply 2abc” so I figure in this case the closest thing to a name for him is “Anonymous Bastard Coward.”

He’s referencing the part in my ad which says:

“I’m a night owl, a lesbian woman, a computer geek, and a music lover. I am ethically non-monogamous and shameless about sex (pro tip: “no overnight guests” is a polite way of saying “sex is shameful.” I don’t do shameful.)”

He tells me in his little rant:

“Well no overnight guests has another meaning, too. It’s about the landlord wanting and having the right to know who is using their property, and the additional parking, utility use, and noise problems. Landlord tenant is a two way street.”

Problem is, his justifications don’t hold up — because if any of those things are concerns, then they’d be concerns without the “overnight” part, too!

What happens if I invite a couple of friends over for brunch in the late morning, tea in the afternoon, or dinner and drinks and sportsball on TV in the evening? Making a meal for more than just myself, putting on the kettle, guests using the bathroom… do potentially increase “utility use” — by an incredibly small amount. If my friends drive cars when they come by, they’ll have to figure out parking (and I’d be sure to say “hey, actually that spot won’t work, maybe try down the block, etc.” if I needed to.) Watching the game might be noisy, too, especially after a few beers! And, what, would the landlord be expecting to interview and approve or deny each person I chose to invite for any of those events? Pretty sure that’s not legal, just like he couldn’t legally say “no guests or visitors ever.”

No, the only reason to single out overnight guests as forbidden is because you’re squicked by the thought of your tenant fucking.

Noise problems? You mean “the sound of your tenant fucking.”

Additional parking? You’re assuming that I drive, and that anyone I happened to pick up would be driving too, AND that if they were driving, there would be so little parking that it would cause problems. It’s a flimsy excuse.

Utility use? You mean “the shower in the morning after your tenant fucks” or “the gas to run the stove when your tenant makes breakfast for the person they fucked last night.” And why would that (likely shared!) shower matter to you? What difference does an occasional fancy breakfast make?

I mentioned all of this to The Rabbit just after I’d gotten the email. She herself is a landlord, and her first response was “what’s it to him, anyway?! It’s not like he’s ever even going to rent to you, so why should he care?” She pointed out that it’s ridiculous for him to worry about any of that, and agreed enthusiastically when I suggested that it was just a matter of having gotten under his skin with my grain of truth about his (and far too many other people’s) shame about sex — enough so that he felt compelled to tell me, a woman on the internet who he’s never met and likely never will, why I’m wrong.

So, yeah. I stand by my original statement: “no overnight guests” is a polite way of saying “sex is shameful.”

And I still don’t do shameful.

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