I can’t not talk about Aziz Ansari

[CW: this post talks about rape with varying levels of detail and specificity. Most links have the potential to be very triggering as well.]

Of all the celebrity-predator revelations this year, this is the one that’s made me feel the need to write again. I have… So. Much. I want to say here, I’m afraid I’ll make a mess of it all, but here we go.

I know exactly what every moment of that date must have felt like, because I have been in that same position. More times than I can count.

It’s a complicated thing, being assaulted by someone you’re actually kind of into, someone you actually kind of want to get it on with. Because you don’t want them to stop wanting to get it on with you, you just want them to pay attention and slow down, and actually show some sign that they are interested in your enjoyment, and not just following a script for their own pleasure. You just want them to let you catch up.

It’s even more confusing when they keep telling you they care. When their words tell you the things you want and need to be true, when you trust, or at least trusted and want to keep trusting, that this person is good and does care, that they’ll realize how uncomfortable they’re making you and stop, that any moment now they’ll stop doing these weirdly awful, uncomfortable things and maybe you’ll actually be able to both get on the same page.

But their actions? Their actions are relentless. Their actions barely even pause while they promise to give you time to relax, while they promise that they care about your comfort and enjoyment.

It’s a merry-go-round of emotions, and it’s a hard one to get off of. Grace escaped before “”real”” “”sex”” happened, I guess? But if you somehow think that makes any of it any better, I don’t think your worldview is salvageable.

I could have written this story, with another man in Ansari’s place. Except, fuck, I believed my rapist *loved* me. He believed it, too.

I also could have written this story. If you don’t quite get what was wrong with what Ansari did, read this piece, too. It’s important.

Also, read the application of the tea and consent analogy to the story.

I could have written these stories.

And, a few years ago? Reading these stories would have shattered me into a thousand pieces. Left me dissociated for weeks, quietly rolling through or fending off flashbacks while maintaining a calm exterior. Going through the motions of my routines without actually being productive in any aspect of my life.

Reading about Ansari, Sunday morning? I was upset, I can tell you that. I was angry, but productively so.

I have found myself reminded of weirdly specific moments in my relationship with my rapist, but I haven’t been overwhelmed by them.

I also didn’t immediately use the word rape when I was talking about it.

It wasn’t until I was a half a dozen comments deep, correcting some dude who was talking about awkwardness and suggesting that Ansari had ‘gotten himself into’ an ‘awful situation’. It did seem like our differences were actually semantic, and he was quick to acknowledge that yes, Ansari had absolutely repeatedly assaulted this woman, and that yes, it was clear that the only thing he cared about was getting laid, that he didn’t care about this woman at all beyond that and did not care to see her as a fully realized person with her own thoughts and feelings.

He was still framing Ansari as the only relatable character in the story, practically erasing the woman as much Ansari had himself, and that rubbed me the wrong way. Eventually, I said:

you’re using a lot of words to say ‘he clearly prioritized getting his end in above all else and doesn’t care whether he rapes people to get it.’ That is literally description of a rapist. He is a rapist. You can just say that and be done with it and not worry so much about the awful situations rapists get themselves into (the poor misguided dears)

It wasn’t until that moment I’d felt ok using the word for this situation. And I know that there are people who still aren’t comfortable with it.

Why? Because his penis never made it into her vagina? Really? After his penis had been forced into her hands over and over again, after she’d put his penis in her mouth without wanting to, after his fingers were shoved down her throat again and again, that’s the thing that’s going to tip this experience over into something violent and traumatic?

Really?

It’s particularly telling to me that people who subsequently turned up in that thread to question my use of the word ‘rapist’ never objected to my repeated use of the word ‘assault’ to describe his actions. He assaulted her sexually, repeatedly and in various ways over the course of more than an hour, and yet somehow we all still hesitate to cry ‘rape’.

That’s the power of rape culture, right there. That is how we are silenced.

And I guess that’s why I needed to write about this.

I’ve been… pretty quiet about rape for quite some time. I haven’t written anything here about #metoo, or about the cascade of outed predators in Hollywood in the ensuing months. I also haven’t said much (or anything?) about it on my personal facebook page.

It’s not that I’ve been totally silent. I’ve participated in comment threads and conversations in other places. I just… I don’t even know. With #metoo, I was unreasonably flummoxed by specificity of it being about women, and though I know many non-binary people who rightfully found spaces for themselves there, I wasn’t comfortable with doing so for myself. I also just….

Look, I have done this. There are post on this blog that were incredibly painful for me to write. There are details and stories about my own experiences that I have shared even when doing so made me feel like I couldn’t breathe. When every word coming out of fingertips felt like it cost me dearly, but I knew that not getting them out would cost me more.

I’ve cut myself open and shown you all my insides. I guess I did so a few years too early? But I’ve also healed from it. Because of it. And I don’t want to keep reopening those wounds.

I don’t mean I want to forget or stop talking or caring about these things. I guess I don’t really know what I mean. I’ll keep writing about this stuff when I have the energy to, I guess. And I won’t sweat it when I don’t.

But if you come away from this post with anything, please let it be an understanding that this story about Aziz Ansari is the story of a rape. And that anyone who does those things is a rapist.

Gender Perspectives Vol. 21

download[In the Gender Perspectives series, I aim to highlight diverse kinds of personal narratives and reflections on gender, gender presentation, and identity, to broaden the gender conversation and boost a variety of voices. Check out the rest of the series.]

My gender | Aut of Spoons

I don’t know what gender IS.

How can I know what my gender is, if I don’t know what gender is?

On Coming Out Day this year, I said that I was “less cis than originally advertised.” I don’t know what that means. Perhaps gender is the collection of attributes that are most important to you; your defining characteristics. Your core identity. Why have a word for it, if not your name? Gender Olivia?

Transition, trans becoming | The dancing trans

The process of transition is defined and controlled by cis people in a way that denies transness to many, many trans people. However, we are all still slowly becoming our genders and that, for us trans folks, is our transition, cis-sanctioned or not.

Carve Me Like a Pumpkin | The Junkie Comsonaut

I am preparing my body for surgery, and it is almost there. My brain needs some more time. Anticipating the damage and the aftermath still makes me queasy, but I’ll cope. I want this. I want what it will get me.

An open letter to OKCupid about the proposed “Real Name” policy

I just heard about this new OKC policy shortly before this post popped into my feed. OKCupid is planning to replace usernames with people’s first names (presumably to be more like Tinder?) There’s a whole pile of reasons why this is a shitty idea, and the Bearded Genderqueer makes the point very clearly here.

The Bearded Genderqueer

Here is a copy of what I wrote in the OKCupid feedback form in response to their proposed policy change that would require real first names instead of custom usernames by the end of 2017.

Dear OKC team,
I’ve been a user since 2004, I met my spouse here, and I’ve had many relationships ranging from casual to long term that started on your site. I love a lot about your site and I am usually a fan of your changes, especially those to reduce unwanted and harassing messages. I’m not the type to complain every time someone releases a new feature, even if I’m not a fan.

However, I sincerely hope that by “real name policy” you don’t mean to police that like Facebook has done to the detriment and harm of transgender people. For many people, the name that everyone knows them by is not the name on…

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Questions from the search terms: “what is your sexuality if you like non-binary people?”

Today’s question:

What is your sexuality if you like non-binary people?

This has become a bit of a theme in my search terms, so much so that “If you’re into me, then you’re not straight: orientations and attractions to non-binary people” is the most-viewed post on this site on most days, and some of my most recent questions from the search terms have been in this vein as well. However, I like this framing of it, so here we go again!

This is an interesting question searcher, and the answer is the incredibly unsatisfying “it depends”.

The way that we currently define sexuality depends both on our own gender and on the gender(s) to which we are attracted – if you know that someone is only attracted to women, that’s not enough information to determine their sexual orientation without knowing their gender also – they could be a straight man, or a lesbian woman, or a non-binary person (in which case, the label would be harder to determine).

It’s also unclear to me from your question whether you’re talking about being exclusively attracted to non-binary people or not, so I’ll try to cover both cases.

If someone is exclusively attracted to non-binary people, what *is* their sexual orientation?

If you’re talking about a man or a woman here, technically they would be heterosexual (only attracted to people of genders different than their own), but not really straight per se. It would be a better bet to identify as queer, really, from my perspective.

A non-binary person who is only attracted to non-binary people might consider themself homosexual or gay, although being non-binary and being attracted to non-binary peopel doesn’t inherently mean being attracted to people with the same gender as you (as there are many different genders that fall under the non-binary umbrella), or heterosexual (sometimes we enbies like to joke that we’re all het, because no one else has the same gender as us), but again, queer might be the best bet.

I don’t actually think that an exclusive attraction to non-binary people is what we’re talking about here, though. Usually people who are into non-binary people are into at least one of the binary genders as well.

People who are attracted to non-binary people plus men and/or women fall pretty clearly under the bisexual umbrella (as they are attracted to more than one gender). There are different ways of identifying within this umbrella, too. If you’re attracted to people of all genders, then pansexual is a good choice, but bisexual still applies if you prefer it. And queer is still on the table here too.

So, yeah, as I’ve pretty much said before, if you’re attracted to non-binary people, there’s a pretty good chance you’re queer, though the precise label you want to use may vary.

Name change weirdnesses

I’m still occasionally surprised and amused by some of the upshots of having changed my name (and especially of having changed my name in the particular way I did, making my old first name into my permanent last name.)

For one thing, I am now one of those jerks with the dreaded two first names (I mean, kind of. I was given my grandmother’s maiden name as a first name, so it was actually a last name all along, but it is also a name that is used as a first name about 50% of the times that you see it.) On top of that, my work email displays the last name first (as in Lastname, Firstname), so sometimes people who aren’t paying a whole lot of attention will respond to emails from me with “Hi Lastname”

Which means they’re actually sending me emails addressed “Hi Deadname” and I always, *always* have a weird moment of “Wait, how did they knoooooooooow?” before remembering that I did this to myself.

Another weirdly specific thing I deal with is the fact that, oddly enough, both my previous name and my current name sometimes get mistaken for the same wrong names. Before I was Kasey, I had an uncommon name that regularly got transmuted into variations on Kelly/Kayley/Kelsey etc. And… that still happens with Kasey. I just got called Kelsey a bunch by a customer who misread my name.

On the up-side, though I’ve been getting a new wave of compliments on my name lately (my current firstname-lastname combo is very satisfying to say, and more than one person has told me I have a very ‘rockstar’ name). It’s cool that I can take full responsibility for that, too; it’s not just something I got lucky on, it’s something I actively did.

Basically, I did real good job at rebranding myself, y’all. Even though sometimes it’s also weird.

Non-thesaurus: Non-impactful

Way back in the early years of Valprehension, I wrote a couple of “non-thesaurus” posts. These posts take common non-words – that is, words that people instinctively use, but that aren’t technically ‘words’ according to the word authorities or whatever – and provide a list of ‘real’ words that can be used instead.

I still get occasional hits from people looking for ways to call things impactful without losing marks for using the (non)-word impactful. But I recently visited by someone looking for synonyms to “nonimpactful”, so hey, why not write that one up as well? Here’s some words you may be able to use as an alternative to calling something ‘non-impactful’ (or unimpactful?). I’ve tried to cover my bases for different potential contexts and uses:

  • banal
  • boring
  • empty
  • frivolous
  • hollow
  • impotent
  • inane
  • inconsequential
  • ineffective
  • insipid
  • irrelevant
  • lacklustre
  • mundane
  • pointless
  • prosaic
  • trivial
  • unconvincing
  • uninspired
  • uninspiring

The ‘Shit Cis People Say’ Alphabet: Z is for “Ze”

Welcome to another episode of the Shit Cis People Say Alphabet! Today:

Z is for “ze”

We’re going out on a high note, friends! Thankfully not everything cis people say about trans people is bad or wrong or transphobic all the time. Sometimes cis people actually respect and support us(!). Sometimes they use the correct pronouns, even when they’re new or unfamiliar ones, like ‘ze’.

Cis people, you are not doomed to be the people that this series has been about! Although this series only pulled in one person who felt the need to make sure *I* know that #NotAllCis people are like this, it’s probably worth stating it explicitly here. If you’ve found yourself reflected in one or more of the posts here, you can use it as a learning opportunity, and decide to do better going forward. If nothing I’ve written has been a personal call-out to you, then you’re probably pretty good at supporting trans people, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t also still have room to grow.

If you care about trans people, please keep on actively listening to as wide a variety of trans voices as you can, and never stop learning!


Check out the rest of the “Shit Cis People Say” alphabet!

Phew, and that’s the end of this saga, just one day shy of the anniversary of when I put up “A is for Attention”. So all in all, this series took twice as long as I originally intended it to. I’m ok with it!