“What if nobody finds out?” or… Rape: Do You Really Need It? This Will Help You Decide!

Statistically*, at least one of you reading this is a rapist. I never got a chance to say what I wanted to say to my rapist, so I’ll say it to you: Stop fucking raping people. That pussy (or asshole or penis or mouth) is not there for the taking. It’s attached to a person.

That person has individual thoughts and desires and dreams and preferences, because, you know, they’re an actual human being. Accept that if this autonomous human being doesn’t want to fuck you, you should NOT fuck them.

Maybe this human that you want to fuck (who doesn’t want to fuck you) is intoxicated? Still NOT okay to fuck them.

What if they’re passed out in the spare room of your buddy’s house – or anywhere else? STILL NOT OKAY TO FUCK THEM.

Sometimes, the human being you are having sex with decides they no longer want to have sex with you, but you do whatever the fuck you want, and you continue to fuck that person. THAT’S FUCKING RAPE, YOU FUCKING RAPIST. Stop doing it.

It’s super easy: If the person you want to have sex with doesn’t want to have sex you, don’t have sex with them.

Maybe you’ll have hurt feelings and blue balls, and you might feel emasculated. That’s okay – you’ll survive. I promise. And your career and livelihood will remain intact and your penis will not fall off.*

If you’re fucking people without their consent, I strongly urge you to seek professional help – we all urge you to stop and seek help! There don’t seem to be many helplines or services for people who want to rape other people; the only resource I was able to find links to a lame ‘find a therapist’ website, but maybe it’ll get you pointed in the right direction. Your actions aren’t just hurting the people you’re raping. They’re affecting the families of the people you rape, their kids, partners, parents, and communities. You might have even created a fucking kid (or more than one, depending on how many people you’ve fucking raped) because women who are raped are two times more likely to conceive than women who have consensual sex.

If you’re waiting for someone to stop you, it’s probably not going to happen. Most of you fuckers get away with raping people because the people you rape are either too scared or too ashamed to say anything. Even if you do get caught or the person you raped files a report, the case might be too difficult to prosecute — or you might have a wealthy, well-connected daddy who writes you a fucking note and colludes with some good ol’boy judge to get you the equivalent of after-school detention.

Worse, if the person you raped knows you and loves you, they might not want you to go to prison. People who are raped by their partners often JUST WANT YOU TO STOP RAPING THEM.

So you have to stop doing it on your own. If alcohol is a contributing factor, stop drinking. If you get people drunk and take them home, tell your friends to keep you from going home with anyone so you don’t ‘accidentally’ FUCK THEM WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT.

If you think it’s perfectly fine to rape other people because you believe they deserve it or because they have less value as a person, I hope you fucking die. How’s that for a twist on the rape threats so many women get for expressing their opinion on the internet? YOU can’t rape me to death if you fucking die first, you fucking fuck. In a more just world, I would say I hope you go to prison because you are a violent offender who needs rehabilitation and possibly community oriented restorative justice. But we don’t live in a very just world – 97% of you fuckers rape people and totally get away with it. So if you truly believe that you are justified in raping other people, I hope you fucking die so you can’t hurt anyone else.

But maybe you don’t like the idea of people calling you a rapist? Does it sting? This is actually a good sign – it means you know what you’re doing is wrong and you don’t want other people to know about it. There’s an easy solution: STOP FUCKING RAPING PEOPLE and apologize to the people you have already raped.***


*             “1 in 16 (6.5%) men are rapists. 2002 Lisak study, although other studies show as high as nearly 15%, or 1 in 7 men.”

**           99% of all perpetrators of sexual assault (aka FUCKING RAPISTS) are dudes. Hence, the penis remark. To the women out there who are raping people, STOP RAPING PEOPLE, YOU FUCKING RAPISTS.

***        It’s very possible that the person you raped is terrified of you and has nightmares and flashbacks about the time when you seized control of their body against their will. It’s very possible that you have mutilated them emotionally and negatively altered the trajectory of their life. If you are sincerely sorry for what you have done, coordinate with a sexual assault support group or qualified mediator to convey your apologies to the person you raped. You should not request to see them, but if you’re comfortable with a face-to-face meeting, let them know that you’re available to talk. Many people who have been assaulted express relief or resolution when their experiences are acknowledged by their offenders.

NOTE: I honestly believe that most people (even people who rape other people) can be good human beings. Maybe you’re a product of how you were raised or maybe you experienced some traumatic shit when you were a kid. It’s okay – you can still stop raping people. You can be a good person.

Here are some fucking articles:









“How to become more feminine”

You know that time you looked up synonyms for “responsibility” and you were reminded of how fucking sexist the internet can be?

Capture (2)

Fuck you Google dictionary.

Oh wait, that was just me… But I’ll bet you run across shit like this sometimes and just shake your head. *Sigh* “Oh internet…”

However, as much as I want to barf when I encounter these little nuggets of archaic bullshit, I also like to share them. “LOOK!” I’ll say, “Look at how RIDICULOUS it is!” Why? Because there’s a pretty big gap in lived experiences between men and women, and when it comes to explaining how women experience sexism, the only way we can make well-meaning naysayers understand what sort of toxic shit is out there is to show them (and sometimes even that doesn’t work).

Another good reason to point this stuff out to your friends is so you can be reminded that your friends are awesome and smart, and that’s why you’re friends with them:

Capture fb response

SOMETIMES though, there’s this garbage and even though the internet is a vast space with plenty of darker, more horrifying examples of sexism, this one was particularly vomit-inducing. BUT THEN I FIGURED OUT I CAN EDIT WIKI-HOW!

Capture intro

So I did. Unfortunately….everyone else can edit it too…


The original author rolled back all my edits and this lovely article reverted to its oppressive old ways (*also, because I used strikeouts to preserve the crazy original text, I was also not adhering to wiki-how’s editing guidelines). BALDERDASH AND CLAPTRAP.

But I got screenshots 😀

(Click the on the images to enlarge)

The end! 😀

Dear Future Ex-Lovers

This essay was written by Haley K.- a friend, an activist, a mother, and a sex worker.

Dear future ex-lovers,

My relationships are bound to fail. This is not necessarily my fault, although with what I am about to write, most of society will place the blame solely on me. My attempt is to try and disrupt the idea that choosing to partake in a socially unacceptable practice somehow justifies violence, morally based attacks, or attempts at saving/restoring me to my “true self”.

I’ll tell you when we start dating that I am a sex worker. You’ll ask what that means. I will tell you. You’ll try and hide the look of disgust from your face as I explain that I exchange sexual services for cash. You’ll ask if I’m a prostitute. I will say yes, but gently and patiently tell you that I prefer the term “sex worker.”

You might be accepting at first. You might not. Sometimes, you’ll ignite into a full on rage and physically hurt me. Sometimes you’ll put your hands around my neck and choke me. Sometimes you’ll throw me down on the ground and bash my head into my closet door repeatedly. Sometimes you’ll apologize for that, and usually you’ll validate your reaction by saying that you just can’t understand how someone seemingly so normal could degrade herself like that, and in turn disrespect YOU like that. That’s not the story I want to tell though.Love Isnt Free 001 [small] Jan 2015

More often than reacting in physically harmful ways, though, you’ll get the sympathetic look on your face, apologize for nothing in particular, and throughout the duration of our relationship, you’ll try and save me from myself. I’m going to work, I’ll say. Are you sure you want to do that? Can I pay you not to go? Want me to drive you? Do you know this guy? You weren’t in the mood last night, and now you’re going to fuck some other guy, so obviously I’m not good enough and clearly you don’t love me but I will continue loving you because obviously you are a broken, immoral soul who needs to be supported and saved by a good, upstanding man like me.

Either right away, or later after you’ve claimed you’re open minded about my profession, you’ll inevitably ask me questions – questions rooted in insecurities of yours, questions rooted in your perception of me, and questions centered around the morality of a frowned upon and illegal practice. In order to save you some time, I’ll answer them here:

You’re too smart, pretty, and driven to be a whore. Leave that work for the stupid girls.

Actually, I am too gorgeous, sexy, intelligent, open minded and driven NOT to be a whore. I find it demeaning to associate intelligence with sex work or being a “whore”. There are many intelligent sex workers I know who are also attorneys, social workers, masters students, PhD candidates, the list goes on. I also know individuals that haven’t experienced higher education, and that doesn’t necessarily determine their intelligence. In short, without negating the fact that much of the sex worker population is without the option to receive an education, I will speak for myself when I say that I find it demeaning to associate sexual labor with intelligence.

I am pretty by conventional standards. There’s a niche for every body type, and every appearance in the world of selling sex.  It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to claim I am too pretty to partake in erotic labor – there’s a market demand for women who look like I do (not everyone enjoys my body shape or appearance, but a lot do).

I am intelligent, so I am able to handle my money and as part of my intimate encounters, I am able to offer an additional element of intellectual conversation. So with the physical intimacy I also add intellectual and emotional intimacy (which in turn, keeps clients faithful to me, and I to them. This reduces the need to meet new clients, where I am more susceptible to violence, rape, and/or law enforcement involvement). I am driven – and I am driven in many different areas. I am driven to become an author. I am driven to become a better mother. I am driven to be an activist to help in the fight to gain rights for sex workers and change harmful narratives that (especially) women involved in the sex industry are powerless, passive, and victims. That’s simply untrue.

Were you abused as a child? What traumatic experience happened that would lead you to this? Did you have a pimp?

No I was not abused. No I was not a runaway. I have had trauma in my life, but none of this trauma forced me, coerced me, or otherwise led me into being a sex worker. I did have what some would call a pimp. For three weeks. Once empowered with the knowledge, I said goodbye. He didn’t track me down to kill me. He didn’t force me back to work. He didn’t threaten me. He called a few times because he missed me. That was all. What led me to do this work was an initial fascination with the illegality of it, and my own internal debates about whether or not sex work was in fact immoral. This was when I was 19. I toyed with the idea for quite some time. The first time I received cash in exchange for erotic labor was with my soon-to-be, so-called pimp. He gave me $17.00 to let him jerk off onto my glorious tits. After that, I thought about how easy it was, how surprisingly fine I felt with the exchange. But there were times I felt shame. There were times I felt guilt. But as I found a community that I could relate to, I stopped feeling those things and instead felt empowered and confident in my work. The narrative that all whores are there because of force, coercion, or traumatic childhoods is simply not true. I manage my own money, my own time, and do my own marketing (with the help of a photographer). I find great joy and empowerment in what I do, and what I choose to do with my money (whether that’s to give it to someone else or keep it for myself) is frankly, none of anyone’s business.  But I’ll answer that no, I am not managed in the conventional understanding of that word. Nobody is forcing me to engage in this work. But I don’t think I am any better than those that do use management, I don’t want to engage in the whorearchy – the classist, racist, and other “ist” systems in place that prevent sex workers from working together.

If I pay you, or if I marry you, will you stop being a whore? (in other words, can I have complete control of your vagina as an indication of your love for me?)

No. Maybe when I am older and ready and willing to retire from this business, I will find a sugar daddy type relationship. But I don’t know. I don’t view myself as monogamous by any stretch of the imagination, so you having complete control of my vagina is out of the question. I also don’t believe in the institution of marriage. I think it perpetuates the idea that women can be owned by men, and vice versa. That’s not to say I don’t necessarily believe in lifelong commitments, but marriage to me, seem like a business arrangement. That being said, I would likely get married if it was an act of resistance against government involvement in the lives of others – for instance, I would marry someone in order to prevent their deportation. I would marry someone I cared about deeply if I needed to do so in order to access certain resources such as making medical decisions. Continue reading

Give us a reason why the U.S. should continue to criminalize sex work and we’ll tell you why you’re wrong

This article was co-authored by Haley K.

Sex. No matter what underlying motivations exist for people having it, it’s a part of the human experience (for most people) and it happens on a massively broad scale. Like, seriously HUGE-everywhere-all-the-time.

People are totally getting it on. Right. Fucking. Now.

Sexual pleasure comes in all different forms, and as long as it happens between consenting adults, the majority of sexual encounters are within the limits of “legal” activity.

  • One-night-stand sex? Legal.
  • Just-bored-and-want-something-to-do sex? Legal.
  • Orgy-sex-club sex? Legal.
  • Getting-tied-up sex? Legal.
  • Cheating-on-your-girlfriend sex? Legal.
  • Married sex? Legal.
  • Single sex? Legal.
  • Sex-with-coworkers sex? Not advised, but … Legal.
  • Sex after sushi? Legal.
  • Sex AND sushi? Legal.
  • Sex WITH sushi? Legal.
  • Brony fantasy sex? Legal.
Pony time

Found on LandoverBaptist.net on a thread claiming My Little Pony is Satan’s newest recruiting tool

Unless you’re in public view, all sorts of consensual sex in all sorts of situations is totally fine – UNLESS at least ONE motivation involves the exchange of money for that sex (talking about children and their (in)ability to consent is beyond the scope of this writing; all arguments discussed herein refer to consensual sex acts between adults).

Not sex in exchange for jewelry, that’s fine. Not for financial ‘support’ (bills, rent, groceries, etc.) – that’s fine. Not within the confines of a marital contract (even a “mail-order bride”), that’s fine.

Just cash. As soon as cash enters the picture, the act of having sex is immediately criminal.

And it isn’t in the way people have sex, or where, or for how long, or how often they do it that is actually illegal, but specifically the reason why they’re doing it. There is no specific physical act that is ANY different from the myriad of ways people have sex that is criminalized, but simply the motivation (the thought-process) for why they are doing it. Continue reading

*Trigger warning – Discussion About Trigger Warnings

Why trigger warnings may hurt more than they help.

You’ve probably seen it: the “*TW” (Trigger Warning) preceding articles and news stories in social media feeds and news sites. This warning frequently accompanies stories about rape, abuse, sexual harassment, stalking, or domestic violence – topics that could potentially trigger a physiological or emotional reaction in readers who have experienced similar situations.

I follow a lot of feminist organizations and blogs, and since feminism exists because specific categories of people experience physical and organizational violence, that’s what people write about. Subsequently, I see this warning (*TW) multiple times per day. Systemic oppression and sexual violence are huge obstacles in women reaching social and economic parity, and these issues are compounded by preexisting social inequities for people who aren’t white, able-bodied, cisgendered, and straight. Feminist issues are inextricably linked with issues of violence and oppression, and therefore the subject matter is frequently distressing.

It’s vital that we continue to address these issues in any way possible – in blogs, news articles, art installations, videos, protests, auctions, film, poetry, fiction, memoirs, etc. – but the haphazard (or, worse, universal) application of the term “Trigger Warning” does little for those we desire to help, and can actually be harmful/hurtful to the most vulnerable among us. Continue reading

Babysitters, Car Shows, and Girls — Defining Gendered Spaces through Image Searches

Google search is a fascinating tool for surface-level social and cultural analysis. A 2013 UN Women campaign used search terms and auto-predict to demonstrate common searches about women, and the results are CRAZY and eye-opening. But that’s old news, right? What else can we do with Google searches?

This morning I was doing some preliminary “research” on gender and space (which resulted in quite a few references to Sally Ride – Haha, yay for unintended puns). As expected, there were a TON of academic and scholarly articles but that wasn’t really what I was after. I wanted some examples of how public areas and spaces can be “gendered,” meaning the ways that gender is reinforced and reproduced by and through our environments. A really blatant example of reinforcing gender roles is the way most department stores separate toys into “pink” (girl) and “blue” (boy) aisles. Car toys are almost exclusively marketed towards boys, so I decided to take it a step further and see what I would find in the adult realm. I typed in “Carshows” into Google and did an image search. This is what I got:


Okay, maybe I spelled it wrong… Here’s “Car Shows”in a Google image search:

Capture2Wow. This search yielded pretty much the same results.

I’m definitely not a search engine expert and this neat Google description of how search engines work in general was helpful. I’m assuming image searches work in a similar fashion by using algorithms and indexing to load the top results. I know that in regular and image search mode, auto-predict will provide you with the top searches related to what you’re typing – at some level this probably influences us to correlate the subject with the auto-predict results, even if those things aren’t actually related. If “car shows” actually means super-duper sexed up chicks placing their boobs on cars, what images would other terms generate?

I quickly realized that while it’s not a tangible “space” (I don’t physically go to Google to find my information), these image results are to a degree representative of commonly held perceptions. And in this example of “car shows” I definitely get the message that if I attend a car show, it will likely be a gendered space where women are commodities rather than consumers (and therefore not a place I would feel comfortable or welcome). So even before I consider attending a car show, I’m already deterred. Even without being in the actual space, this search communicates and reinforces gender roles relating to car shows through the resulting images.

Personally I think that’s pretty powerful (and (again) personally, I would probably still go to a car show if interested or invited because FTW I do what I want).

But it’s not all about dry-humping cars (I know… you’re sad) –  I did some random searches of people in places and occupations. Some of the screenshots when viewed individually aren’t all that bad (some aren’t really bad at all) but some of the images when viewed in comparison to contrasting terms or ideas began to surface questions or observations about how we represent some of those ideas and expectations.

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Okay, that’s it. All of these results can be duplicated (if you saw something you like or whatever… don’t want to know, not judging… PLEASE don’t let it be the babysitter page – *shudder*)

Oh, before you go though – here’s a different sort of car show model! *This guy is super cool and you can read more about the unique Toyota commercial here:


No mini-skirts after 30.

A little cleavage is okay- whoa, not that much.

Don’t wear heels if you’re tall.

Flats aren’t sexy.

Don’t have sex on the first date.

Don’t call him, he’ll call you.

Stop being so pushy.


Always wear mascara.

He’s an ass-man. He’s a breast-man.

Don’t be emotional. Don’t be needy. Don’t be a nag.

Make him treat you like the princess you are.

If you lose just five pounds…


Lie about your age.

Lie about your weight.

Cover those grays!

Long hair is sexy.

Pubic hair is not.



Go from night to day with this must-have nail color!

Don’t be aggressive.

White teeth are sexy. Age spots are not.

Panty lines are gross.

Get a pedicure.

Cover up those flabby upper arms.

Stop being so sensitive.

Men are better drivers.

Don’t act like a man.

Tick-tock. That’s the sound of your biological clock.

Stretch-mark removal cream. Anti-wrinkle, anti-aging, anti-turkey neck, dark circles spot scar hair remover.

Come-fuck-me shoes. Booty call. Walk of shame. Hag. Witch. Bitch. Slut. Whore.

$t!ck$ @nd $t%ne$: Why I Swear SO F#%king MUCH

Notice: SO MUCH profanity here. Seriously- a whole mess of it.

“It’s think it’s sort of vulgar,” she said delicately. Even talking about it over the phone seemed to make her uncomfortable.

Apparently I was having a conversation with my mother about my excessive use of the word “fuck” in my writing (and my use of profanity in general). I had asked her about a recent piece I’d written a few days prior and she was being sort of cagey. I was presently trying to tease it out of her- and I knew there was something bothering her when she started off by saying, “Well, I don’t want to hurt your feelings…”

She carefully continued after I needled her some more.

“Oh… well, you use bad words a lot in your writing. It’s something that your grandmother, an English Literature major, might have said was ‘in poor taste’ but she always held writing as an elevated, somewhat superior form of communication.” (At this point we both agreed that my grandmother would probably also not be reading my blog in the first place considering the profanity on the front page.)

My mom admitted to me that whenever she reads the word “fuck,” she tends to feel alienated, pushed away, and her brain automatically jumps to the most scandalous definition of the word: to penetrate someone with a penis/phallus (typically without emotion or care for the person being penetrated).

“Huh. That’s funny,” I say.

For my mom to admit to me she finds the word vulgar, well that made me rethink why and how often I use the word myself. In fact, because I say “fuck” so frequently, and almost never in the way that my mother was describing, I often don’t even realize I’m saying it. For me, it’s an emphasis, a way to emotionally punctuate my thoughts and ideas.

For example, the way I use the word is typically as an adjective or exclamation. Like, “I hate my fucking commute so much” or “FUCK! I hate my commute so much.”  Occasionally I’ll use it in verb form: “Fuck you, I-5 corridor. FUCK you, you fucking douchebag interstate that sucks so fucking much. If you were a person I would fucking punch you in your fucking face.”

I do not speak this way all the time. As a general rule I do not use the word “fuck” in the following situations:

  • Parent teacher conferences
  • During business meetings (mostly)
  • When speaking to individuals over the age of 60 (ok, maybe more like 70?)
  • At other people’s kid’s birthday parties (they’re SO stuffy!)
  • During job interviews
  • When making dental or medical appointments When talking to strangers over the phone.

However – I want to be aggressively alienating sometimes. And “uncouth” and “inappropriate” when I feel it’s necessary.

I’ve been chastised for my language in the past by well-meaning people who probably believed I was going to end up hooking on the streets for crack:

  • “You’re supposed to be ladylike”
  • “You should speak politely and not raise your voice”
  • “Women should be more civilized than men”

“Supposed to,” “ought to,” and “should” are enemies of truth.

Who says I’m a lady, and why should I act like one (however it is all “ladies” act)? And if I do “act like a lady”, what’s in it for me? NOTHING. A whole lotta the same-same bull shit.

And polite is just another word for passive.

I am civil and I respect other people’s boundaries. That is probably a good rule of thumb for most people (not just the “ladies”).

I think another part of why I’m so liberal with my profanity is an individual effort to offset the violent and negative ways words are often used to hurt others online. Much of this vitriol is targeted toward women who choose to speak against the status quo in the public sphere. Nasty words and rape threats are flung at women journalists, authors, and activists in the comment threads where anonymous commenters use fear and hate-fueled expletives to put these women back in their place. If  When women do something to threaten the worldview of these faceless commenters, the jerk-faces strike back! They call women “fucking whores” “fat bitches” or “stupid cunts” or some other equally graphic epithet reducing women to objects (genitals or otherwise).They call these women names.  

Big. Fucking. Deal.

To call someone a “cunt” is the worst, yeah? Well, what if we say it isn’t. Graphic words such as “fuck” and “bitch” “whore” and “cunt” carry weight because of the value we assign them.

We all gasp (-gasp-) when we see “inappropriate” comments; those words hit home, am I right? It’s a punch in the gut the first time someone calls us a cunt – because we are taught to think that the person doing the name-calling matters and that because being called a cunt is the absolute worst thing someone can say to a woman, we must have done something really bad to deserve it. And we are supposed to be afraid.

Well, I’m appropriating all your inappropriate words, jerk-faces.

Name-calling and anonymous threats of rape are a last ditch effort, a desperate grasping at the power the anonymous commenter believes is slipping away from him. A. Guess what, it’s not going anywhere- women are simply recouping the equal share we were supposed to have all along- thanks for keeping it warm, and B. Stop being a big fucking baby.


Quick note:

I am not advocating that people go out and start calling each other cunts and bitches, Fuck yeah! No I am not.


Please continue to report instances of hate speech and threats of violence when you see them. There are still millions of kids out there who internalize the hateful, hurtful words they encounter online and it’s important that they know we do NOT approve and that it is completely unacceptable. Hopefully we can get to a place where even the nastiest words are considered weak and childish in the future- (like “jerk-face”).


What is the American Ideal?

When I went to work at McDonalds in 1998 I was 16. Young, white, and female, I’d barely finished my application before I was offered a job by the manager. “We would love to have a more “American” looking young lady like you working at the front of the store.”

She even told me I’d be making a dollar and a half more than most of the other employees, but asked me to keep that confidential in order to avoid any “conflict”. I was pretty naive, and had no idea what she meant by “American looking” until I started my shift a few days later. She meant “white.”

Some of the employees working in the back spoke very little English, but those who were obviously American but apparently not “American looking” told me they’d been asking for months to be on front register or drive-through, only to see their manager hire white people for the positions instead.

So this manager’s idea of “American” was white. Her racist euphemism for preferring white faces to brown faces was “American.” Similarly, we hear words like “traditional” and “good old fashioned family values” to describe a certain “American” ideal: White, heterosexual, and Christian.

Naturalized Identities are really successful at reinforcing ideology. If my main identity is American, that comes with it many concepts, assumptions, and expectations. It also can obstruct or rule out certain opportunities or life experiences based on what I think is “normal” behavior for people like me.


Everything I am is constructed. All the groups with whom I identify – all the titles and attributes I assign to myself – Every single thing is simply an idea, a front. My identity is wrapped up in what I think other people think I am. The same is true of you and everyone we know.

OK, now I sound like some off-the-wall woo-woo philosopher, right? But think about it- we’ll start with something basic.

I am White

C’mon. You can tell by looking at me that I’m white, right? How is that a ‘construct’?

What is “White” or “Black” if not an identity constructed based on someone assigning value to the color of a person’s skin? I am only “white” if someone else is not. Similarly, another person is only “black” or “white” or “brown” when they are named so. Stuart Hall discusses the concept of identity in his piece “Cultural Identity and Diaspora”

Cultural identity […] is a matter of ‘becoming’ as well as of ‘being’. It belongs to the future as much as to the past. It is not something which already exists, transcending place, time, history and culture. Cultural identities come from somewhere, have histories. But, like everything which is historical, they undergo constant transformation. Far from being eternally fixed in some essentialised past, they are subject to the continuous ‘play’ of history, culture and power. Far from being grounded in a mere ‘recovery’ of the past, which is waiting to be found, and which, when found, will secure our sense of ourselves into eternity, identities are the names we give to the different ways we are positioned by, and position ourselves within, the narratives of the past.

I am American.

I am American because a group of men decided that America is a nation; these dudes fought a war against another group of dudes who had claimed the land as their own colony by simply showing up, a declaration validated not by the inhabitants, but by a separate small nation across a great ocean. They drew arbitrary borders and kicked out/murdered/crushed the souls of the natives who were there already and called it America.

[To be clear- identifying with a culture isn’t necessarily a bad thing as long as you aren’t an asshole about it. You can be invested in your heritage and not be all “Oooh, I’m so much better than you because my pasty ancestors are from somewhere cold where other pasty people are from, and your brown ancestors are from some other place that is lame.” (or the other way ’round, duh)

Also, it’s super important to recognize the inherent benefits many have because they look like the majority of people in political and economic power (who think like the asshole example above), and consequently the obstacles many others face because they are different than the asshole example above (the aforementioned ‘not “American” looking’ Americans).]

  • My identity as a woman? Constructed.

“Woman” as an identity is more than just a description of my gender. It entails all sorts of behavioral expectations, restrictions, and beliefs about what makes me valuable as a human (my sex production, my child production, my domestic production, etc.)

  • My identity as a mother? Constructed.

“Mother” as an identity is much like “woman” in that there are specific expectations of me as a mother. I should engage with my children in specific ways, I should conceive my children in specific circumstances; I should give up certain aspects of my life in order to fulfil this identity “mother.”

  • My identity as a student, a wife, a veteran, a government employee, a middle-class suburbanite, a rape victim? Constructed.

That last “identity” was a touchy one, right? Rape victim as a construct? I’ll explain:

There is a specific expectation of how a person should act when they are raped or otherwise sexually assaulted. It’s this “appropriate” behavior that demonstrates to men in positions of authority whether you are being truthful or not. As a “victim” you are expected to mourn the loss of your dignity/sense of agency/personal safety. You are expected to go through a process of recovery, where you work through the assault and recognize the magnitude of the personal violation to which you were subjected. You are expected to identify as a “victim” or “survivor” and incorporate that event into how you see yourself as a person, how you experience your life from that point forward. It is expected that you will feel less valuable (because you are seen as such, generally) because your self-worth is associated with your sexual reputation. You are supposed to fixate on the personal aspects of this violation so as not to look at the bigger picture, so as not to fixate on the epidemic of violence against women by men used as a social tool of control and domination.


There are a million social expectations and boundaries that define our everyday lives- much of that shit gets in the way of actual human connection. Expectations of what “motherhood” means totally gets in the way of how I want to live my life. I stayed home for the first three years after my kids were born and I literally almost committed suicide. It destroyed who I was and I HATED IT. Then I started working and began to feel like myself again, but I heard all sorts of trash about how my kids were missing out on being with their mother, and that I should just stay at home and let my husband take care of me. Yes. In 2007 people were telling me I was neglecting my children by working.

Also, I stopped wearing my wedding ring about a year ago. Is it because I don’t want to be married or because I stopped loving my husband? No way! I am more in love with him now than ever. He’s my best friend and my partner, the father of my obnoxious kids, and he picks up the dog shit in the yard.

What I didn’t like was this concept of rings and marriage defining what I realized was none of anyone else’s business. He knows we’re married, I know we’re married- who the fuck else needs to know we’re married besides us? Also, I don’t want to be defined by my marital status. I am a human being, not “married” or “single” and I don’t need a social signifier like a ring defining an aspect of my life that is not anyone else’s business (plus it smacks of property exchange from the [sort of] way-back and that’s gross).

What is the value in deconstructing identity? Why explode the very idea of who we are?

Because FREEDOM! Just kidding. Sort of.