The Penis Monologues
by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2014 Victoria A. Brownworth
There was a little rhyme about Barbie and Ken when I was growing up: “Their love life was a failure/’cause they had no genitalia.”
Fast-forward a few decades and I read a blogpost asserting that genitalia are irrelevant to one’s “love life.”
No. Just…no. It took literal millennia for women to be at a place in historical time when we could claim the right to our own genitalia and what we want to do with said lady parts. We are not about to forfeit that right. We’re not forfeiting it for the GOP and Tea Party in the U.S., the Tories and UKIP in the U.K., and we’re damned not forfeiting it for random bloggers with rapey constructs of who and what women should do with our vaginas, vulvas, clitorises, cunts, pussies, vajajays, what-have-you.
The sleazy, creepy little blogpost by yet another anonymous blogger claiming to be feminist even as she spews the most anti-feminist of rhetoric takes all women to task for their lack of imagination in daring to put their own desires and their own bodies first, rather than devote them to the service of penises.
It begins innocently enough. The blogger as a three-year-old apparently ran about asking everyone in sight if they had “a willy or a vagina.” This is either precocious or disturbing, depending on your parenting and language techniques, but in either case, she was taught or learned randomly that this was bad form.
Now our blogger is obsessed anew, just as she was at three. This time she’s obsessed with what other people might be calling genitalia. So obsessed, she has to project her obsession onto others, insisting it is us, not her, who can’t stop talking about it.
No, it’s not us, it’s you.
She cites male obsession with female genitalia.
This is where–and in only the second paragraph, too–things begin to go off-kilter. In reality, where most women live (but not our blogger, who lives in a “Vampire Castle,” which would be clever if she were, still three, less charming in an adult), men are not obsessed with women’s genitalia.
Men may be obsessed with getting laid, but if they are obsessed with any genitalia, it is their own. Men like to fiddle with their penises in public. (When was the last time you saw a woman adjust her crotch while walking down the street? Yes, that would be never.) They like to talk about their penises endlessly. (Yet in the U.S. a woman was actually banned from saying the word “vagina” on a state legislative house floor when discussing a reproductive rights bill and there was a recent protest over a “Night of a Thousand Vaginas,” a benefit for reproductive rights in Texas.)
Women pretty much never talk about penises unless some man brings up the subject. And that’s actually the case about our own equipment as well. We don’t just randomly discuss our vaginas, as in, “Hi hun–how are you and your vagina today?”
This is in stark contract to men who do go on about their penises–and on and on. Women generally need a context, and that context isn’t just breathing or a day ending in y.
Yet our blogger would have us believe this is a constant and unending discussion for women. Genitalia. Men’s and women’s.
Maybe on the Interwebs among your 12k followers, dear, but not in real life. In real life we have far more pressing concerns and interests.
Our blogger contends the alleged male obsession with female genitalia means, “Among misogynists, it’s a classic male entitlement to sex: they believe our bodies to be public property and they are therefore allowed access to every inch of them.”
I agree with the statement, just not how she got there. Men do believe they are entitled to our bodies. That is why I and nearly every woman I know is a rape or child-sex abuse survivor. That is why women have to fight for reproductive rights. That is why women can’t actually name their own genitalia in public spaces without men trying to shut us up.
But our blogger doesn’t see men as the problem. Like most women with deeply internalized misogyny, she believes women are the problem. In particular, lesbians who want the same bodily autonomy we’ve helped heterosexual women attain.
After stating, unequivocally, that she knows men believe women’s bodies are public property, our blogger then goes on to tell us we must give in to acculturated male entitlement and accept that anyone who wants to should indeed have control over our bodies.
Our lesbian bodies.
I don’t think so.
It wasn’t being raped and nearly killed recently that turned me off men. I’ve had sex with men in the past and it was fine. Perfectly adequate. Not terribly inventive, but then that’s men.
That’s not women.
Now here I want to say I am not dissing heterosexual/bisexual women in any way. Your desires are your own. I want you to have the same thrilling sexcapades every woman deserves in 2014. Mine are with women. With vaginas. My interest in penises is, as a lesbian, nil.
Our blogger, however, thinks that’s bigoted. And limited. And unimaginative.
This same blogger, from the ivory tower of her Vampire Castle, asserted, “I’ve known for a long time that men are often thinking about my cunt, and that’s why I don’t really enjoy the company of men that much.”
So–you don’t like the company of men that much. Many women would understand that–straight, bisexual and lesbian.
But then we are informed–no, told–that the real problem is women are also thinking about our blogger’s cunt. Obsessively. And in women-only spaces, no less. And it makes her feel”unsafe.”
I’ve been a lesbian for a long time. I was expelled from my all-girl’s high school for being a lesbian when my girlfriend’s mother discovered our affair and called the school. I’ve been a lesbian activist since then. And yet rarely, outside of the Westboro Baptist Church crowd or a meeting of an ex-gay group have I heard such a repulsively, outrageously lesbophobic/homophobic/queer-fear statement.
It’s possibly the most appalling thing I’ve ever heard a self-proclaimed feminist say.
She’s saying other women are rapey. She’s saying women in women-only spaces make these spaces unsafe. She’s saying lesbians are predatory and might sexually assault her. She claims that these women–these marauding, uncontrollable and uncontrolled lesbians–are terrifying her. They are, she asserts, far more frightening than men.
Lesbians are more frightening than the men who rape women every 22 minutes in the U.K. and every 8 minutes in the U.S.? Who kill women ever day?
She writes, “Knowing that there are women who do this too [think about her cunt] makes me feel less safe in women’s spaces, like they might just suddenly ask me about my cunt or grab at my crotch to make sure I have correctly-shaped equipment.”
There is, of course, not only no statistical evidence to support this outrageous claim of women randomly sexually assaulting other women. It’s actually just something she’s imagined. It is not in fact true. She’s simply told us that she believes this. And so we should believe her.
I don’t believe her.
Quite simply, she’s lying. She’s invented a lie about lesbians and she’s spreading it as far and wide as she can.
I have never been in any space, public or private, with rapey women. I don’t believe they exist. I think the scary bulldagger virago of 1950s pulp fiction was an invention of men who felt threatened by the idea of lesbians “taking their women,” and in any event, that trope has long disappeared off the landscape except in right-wing, neo-fundamentalist settings. It might be the bogey-woman under our blogger’s bed at the Vampire Castle, but on Planet Earth where feminists and lesbians reside, it’s a figment of the blogger’s imagination.
A dangerous, damaging, vilely homophobic figment that she’s spreading among her 12k followers as if it were fact. Like gay men being pedophiles. Or Jews killing Christian babies. Or Muslims being terrorists.
It’s that despicable. It’s that wrong.
I’m not sure who this blogpost is in service to. It’s barely been tweeted or liked on Facebook, but our blogger sent out a series of vicious, slur-filled tweets to match her vile post, asserting that radical feminists were destroying the Western world by wanting sexual autonomy and other similarly hyperbolic claims.
I don’t know what to do with anti-feminist women. Feminism is the only rational political tool for women and it’s the only thing that will eventually humanize masculinity. But this lesbophobe calling herself feminist takes us back literally 50 years to Betty Friedan’s purge of NOW from the curse of the “lavender menace.”
The basic tenet of feminism is now, was a century ago and will be in perpetuity that women get to control their bodies. That’s fundamental. We get to decide who touches us and where and when. We get to decide who we fall in love with, who we desire and who we don’t desire. We get to decide what we will and will not allow in our vaginas. Consent matters. It can’t be forced. Not by men, not by random bloggers.
In 2014, no matter how many variations on a sexual identity theme there are on Facebook, in the real world, off the Interwebs, women have fought hard and long and desperately for autonomy and agency. Women have given their lives for it. A century ago Emily Davison gave her life so that women could have agency, so that women could have freedom.
The anniversaries of D-Day and Davison’s death should call to mind the importance of fighting against fascism in all its invidious forms. That includes attempts to wrest choice from any woman.
The struggle for women to own our bodies is still being waged across the globe. We are still being forced by rape and FGM, forcible marriage and punitive anti-lesbian laws, lesbian corrective rape and even murder to succumb to the pervasiveness of male violence. But what we won’t be forced to do, on the anniversary of Davison’s death or any other day, is to fuck someone just because some lesbophobic blogger tells us if we don’t, we’re less evolved than she is.
Feminists don’t tell other women who to fuck. That’s what men do. That’s what men have done for millennia. And when we haven’t done as they’ve told us, they’ve forced us.
It’s not lesbians and feminists in women’s spaces who are the danger here. It’s an historically illiterate blogger who thinks women should submit to penises because we have for millennia when we had no choice. That was never an acceptable dictate. And still isn’t.
Victoria A. Brownworth is an award-winning journalist, editor and writer. She has won the NLGJA, the Keystone Award, the Lambda Literary Award and has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. She won the 2013 Society of Professional Journalists Award for Enterprise/Investigative Reporting. She is a regular contributor to The Advocate and SheWired, a blogger for Huffington Post and a contributing editor for Curve magazine, Curve digital and Lambda Literary Review. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times. She is the author and editor of nearly 30 books including the award-winning Coming Out of Cancer: Writings from the Lesbian Cancer Epidemic and Restricted Access: Lesbians on Disability. Her collection, From Where We Sit: Black Writers Write Black Youth won the 2012 Moonbeam Award for Cultural/Historical Fiction. Her Y/A novel, Cutting will be published in fall 2014. @VABVOX