Archive for the Category »Semantics «
If there were a Venn-diagram for non-monogamous relationships it would probably start as a big circle for non-monogamy. Inside that would be polyamory and inside that would be polyfidelity. Each of these circles would be blurry or maybe dotted lines instead of hard ones. Each circle would overlap with multiple other relationship configurations and various other types of relationship orientations and… well, maybe a Venn-diagram isn’t the most helpful illustration.
When defining a term that has to do with relationships or personal identities in any manner there is always some level of fluidity and openness to take into account. You may know this already, but I’m starting with the basics.
In the book Opening Up Tristan Taormino defines polyfidelity as “a multipartner group of three or more people who have made a commitment to each other to be in a primary relationship.” This can be different or exactly the same as polyamory simply depending on the identification of those within the group. There are no hard and fast lines here, and the terms really just depend on what the people within the relationship are most comfortable with.
Despite the “fidelity” part of the term, which makes most people think of having closed sexual conduct polyfidelity does not always exclude other relationships outside of the polyfidelitous group. Fidelity essentially means “faithful” and doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with sexual faithfulness (though it can). Taormino describes two types of polyfidelitous groups: closed and open, meaning closed or open to new relationships outside of the primary. Not all members of a polyfidelitous group have to be sexually involved, either.
While I dislike the terms “primary” and “secondary” or so on and I think maybe a better way to describe it is that everyone in a polyfidelitous relationship is committed to everyone else. Even if there isn’t a sexual or romantic relationship between the individuals there is always an emotional one and a commitment to being with the other in some way shape or form.
As I mentioned, this could look identical to polyamory or it could look completely different, it just depends on how the individuals want to identify.
So, why am I writing all this about polyfidelity? I will probably be using it in the future and now I can reference this post whenever I mention it.
I posted a while ago about our transition from mono to poly to triad and Not long after that I brought this difference up to Marla and Onyx and we all agreed that the definition for polyfidelitous fit our relationship.
Generally speaking the term triad is used to describe a polyfidelitous relationship between three people, so we had already kind of figured that out but at the same time I’m a sucker for semantics and finding new terms and labels to describe myself so that I can add them on to the long list of labels I already embrace to make such a long string of labels I eventually essentially become label-less again, though that’s another post.
Another term Taormino mentions in Opening Up is “trilationship” which is fairly self-explanatory I think. I pronounce it similar to tree-lationship so it sounds similar to relationship only different–also because pronouncing it try-lationship is kind of awkward. This is another term I will be using in the future.Possibly related posts:
Something I’ve been thinking of a lot lately has been the differences between “types” of sex and sexual intimacy and encounters. It’s something that both The Leather Daddy and the Femme and PoMoSexuals made me think about a lot, because they both talked about male-female sexual interaction in a non-straight or non-hetero way. They recognized that males and females can interact sexually with each other in a queer way.
One of the main purposes of queer theory is actually to highlight and embrace the fact that no sex is normal/vanilla/straight, or, really, the opposite is emphasized: that all sex is queer. Very little aside from heterosexual missionary for-procreation-only sex is considered acceptable by our fucked up society, while the majority of people have sex that could not be categorized within that extremely narrow social definition.
Granted, ideas of acceptable sexuality have been evolving lately, but I wouldn’t say other types of sex have become any more acceptable, they’re just recognized as “what everyone does” which isn’t exactly an endorsement, though I’ll admit that my vision on this may be skewed by the last two years living in Utah. However, I really don’t think it’s just Utah talking.
So what’s the big difference between queer sex and straight sex? Aside from the usual definition of the sex of the partners (but that also brings into question is it the sex or the gender that matters?) it’s subtle, and may have a lot to do with intention. Can queer hetero sex include missionary sex? I say of course! The wonderful thing about the orbit(/label) queer is that it is very open to interpretation.
Most often the participants of queer sex are queer people, but that brings into the question of what makes someone a queer person. I’d argue that anyone outside of the norm of society is queer in some way, although not everyone would see it that same way. Queer is an important label for same-sex/gender-loving people to embrace, definitely, but I also think queer moves beyond that label as well.
If we define queer as what it’s not, meaning not normal, just about everyone would be able to be labeled queer. I’m not sure if I’ve ever met a normal person in my life, society perpetuates this idea of normalcy, but that doesn’t mean it exists anywhere, and usually those who think they are normal would not be considered normal by others, so where does that leave us?
Personally I dislike the term ‘normal’ for a variety of reasons, including the fact I have a degree in Psychology, but also because I have never believed that normal exists. People are just too damn individualistic for anyone to fit into a stereotypically cookie cutter image of what we are told we should be. Granted, this is a very western concept.
Back to queer sex vs. straight sex: personally I believe there is a different feeling to queer sex than there is to straight sex (though I try not to have straight sex at all, but every once in a while my sex slips into the realm of less-queer). Queer sex just feels a little, well, queer. It feels subversive and non-normal, even if it is normal to us and our bodies and desires. That’s not to say that there is anything wrong with non-normal, quite the contrary, I think it’s necessary.
Queer sex, to me, can happen between people of any sex or gender. The times I feel my sex is slipping into less-queer territory are those instances when Onyx and I have had quickie sex in nearly missionary position (I say nearly because my legs are up and not flat) with little foreplay and sometimes little attention paid to me. This has only happened infrequently, and usually when we’re both tired but wanting sex. I consider it far from the queerer sex we have which includes toys, various positions, or me fucking him rather than him fucking me.
That’s not to say that just anyone who doesn’t have missionary sex is having queer sex, although that is one possible definition. As I mentioned above I believe there has to be some sort of queer intent, though that is a very broad topic and definition. Also, I think queer sex must also occur between queer people, though that definition is also very broad and open to interpretation.
Now to throw kinky sex into the mix. Kinky sex can be defined in a similar way to queer sex in that it can be defined by what it isn’t, and what it isn’t is vanilla, or normal, but see my dialogue about normalcy? Is there really any such thing? What do we consider to be not kinky?
Perhaps I should define kinky in a way other than exclusion, though I’m not sure how to do that because it is also subtle and it depends entirely on perspective and personal definition. I posit that just as most people could be deemed queer due to having anything other than narrowly-defined non-queer sex that most people could be deemed kinky for having anything other than narrowly-defined non-kinky sex.
That, or we just need to get rid of these labels all together, but that brings me to another theory on labels: that we must define them then broaden them in order to be able to abolish them, so perhaps that’s what I’m working on doing right now!
And what about the quote in the image above? Is anything you do really only kinky the first time, because after you do it that desensitizes you to it, making you think less of the kink factor of it and more of the enjoyment of it? That makes sense in some ways, and it’s been my experience that people tend to measure others against their own experiences rather than the so-called “normal” experience expectation.
However, what constitutes kinky sex? For some it would be using toys and props such as dildos, vibrators, restraints, or blindfolds; for others it would be engaging in “extreme” activities such as S&m, D/s, watersports, or enemas; for others threesomes, foursomes, and moresomes are kinky. Just like queer sex, there is a wide range of what could be considered kinky sex, and it all depends on the person putting that label on it. I do believe that kinky sex has an intention behind it, just like queer sex does, but it is also just as difficult to pin down.
What I’m trying to say is that there are definitely differences between these three “types” of sexual interaction, and none of them are better or worse than others as long as you are interacting the way you enjoy and desire to interact. I’m not saying that straight sex is bad, though I do wonder how many people actually have it. I am saying that more people have queer sex than most people may think, but I’m also saying that labels and definitions such as queer and kinky are difficult to pin-down, and perhaps shouldn’t be pinned down.Possibly related posts:
Hello merry readers, guest blogger Onyx back with a small piece I’ve been meaning to write for a while on the subject of semantics.
Those of you who’ve followed this blog for a while knows that Semantics is something that Scarlet often brings up, both through her Semantic Sunday posts, as well as her many posts about labels and identity and the difficulty she often faces trying to explain herself and her ideas to others.
In a couple recent posts Scarlet has done an excellent job discussing labels, their use, their limitations and why she’s a fan of them. I’m going to expand on this and offer some reasons why I feel that labels so often are misused or downright abused and some ways I feel we can remediate this.
I do not claim to be the originator of the ideas and concepts I will discuss. They were thought up by greater minds than mine and all I can hope to do is to communicate them in a clear and understandable manner. My main influence comes from the school of General Semantics, originally espoused by Count Alfred Korzybski and elaborated upon by writers I respect greatly such as Robert Anton Wilson, as well as ones I hold in much lower regard such as L. Ron Hubbard.
To go into depth about all aspects of General Semantics would require a book, or perhaps a number of books. Briefly speaking it can be said to be a discipline dedicated to increasing awareness of how our use of language informs our thoughts and ideas, especially what one might call “common sense assumptions.” Korzybski taught that words always seem to fail to fully describe any situation, object or action and sought to help us avoid the linguistic traps and manipulations we’re all too often subjected to.
Perhaps this can best be described by one of General Semantics’ key phrases “The map is not the territory. The word is not the thing defined.” Our language is unable to ever describe anything in a comprehensive way; instead we describe various aspects of something, small bits and pieces of the whole.
One of the most dangerous aspects of language Korzybski warned is any variation of the verb to be, to say that anything is anything makes us to grossly oversimplify reality and leads us into dangerous thinking. To illustrate let’s look at stereotypes and prejudices that most of us will have observed at one point or another.
“Black people are criminals”
“The Irish are hard drinkers”
“Queers are immoral perverts.”
Feel free to exchange these for your favorite stereotypes if you wish. The point is that these stereotypes gain their power from the verb to be. Statements such as these assign labels to groups in an absolute manner that grossly oversimplifies reality. Sure we can find partial truths in such statements; we can’t deny that some black people commit Illegal acts, or that some queers violate SOME people’s standards of morality, but the oversimplification forced upon us by the verb to begets in the way of a more detailed and accurate understanding
Any description of an object will vary based on circumstance and time, and if we can train ourselves to recognize this we can avoid the largely emotional responses often triggered by this particular linguistic trap. If we can translate the phrase “Blacks are criminals” into the more abstracted phrase “A portion of blacks have at some point in their lives committed an act considered illegal at that point at that point in time and space” we will almost certainly have a far less emotional response and have a better understanding of the nebulous group known as “blacks”.
Of course, these concepts do not only apply to groups, but to anything we choose to describe. Any time we use any form of to beto describe something we run the risk of oversimplifying our thought process and make potentially very flawed assumptions. (Hopefully I haven’t lost you at this point with my simplistic explanation of General semantics, I do have a point, and I’m getting to it, I promise!)
This brings me back to labels. Most people I know seem to have an aversion to labels and will say they avoid them or don’t want labels applied to them. In my experience this seem a result of the how people fall into the to be trap. We often feel that if we accept a label we have to be whatever we think that label describes, and that we can’t be anything else.
If one adopts the label of “submissive” by saying “I am submissive” we oversimplify and limit our ability to fully express ourselves. If instead we adopt the label by saying “I feel submissive” or even “At this point in time I choose to explore and express myself in a submissive manner” we are no longer bound by the label although we can still use it as a means to communicate and express ourselves. Thus the label itself is not the problem, but rather the verb we use to tie the label to ourselves and our identities.
The mental discipline Korzybski sought to instill can be hard to attain in full. Most languages that I’m aware of, English among them make heavy use of to bein various permutations. Likewise our culture seems very devoted to these oversimplifications, perhaps because it seems easier, more convenient. It takes less effort and mental agility to think of things in fairly rigid absolutes. One might ask whether our cultural attitudes were shaped by our language or if our language was shaped by cultural attitudes. Korzybski believed that language at the very least reinforces these unhealthy thought patterns and that they key to overcoming them was to change the way we use language.
Some students of General Semantics such as D. David Bourland have sought to do this by creating a brand new form of English known as English Prime or more commonly E-prime which seeks to do away with the verb to beentirely. Others have argued that we do not need to eliminate to beentirely, but rather simply become more aware of how we use the verb and more careful with its application.
An interesting experiment I propose you try is to go for a day or even longer trying to avoid using to bein any of its forms or at least marking down every time you do it, and then give some thought as to how it oversimplified or even misrepresented the thing you were seeking to describe. I have found it to bea fun and useful exercise that helps me view the world in new and fascinating ways.Possibly related posts:
After my stint with labels a while ago, it’s time for me to revisit them as they have been brought up a lot lately. While I did revisit my queer label more recently in a post about my queerness and I have been using my Semantics Sunday posts as a way for me to explore my individual labels, I want to go back to the more general subject of labels.
I want to start by saying this: I love labels. I would even go so far as to say I have a label fetish. This, in many ways, informs a lot of what I do, and there will be more on my label fetish later. As I’ve said before, basically any noun and most adjectives are labels. The problem with labels is that we need to realize that labels are useful tools but do not speak of us as a whole.
From my last post on labels:
An example: you order a burger at a restaurant. While this is a burger, it could be made of beef, turkey, chicken, soy, vegetables, black beans, or something else entirely. It could come with: lettuce, tomato, onion, mushrooms, pickles, garlic, pastrami, bacon, swiss cheese, cheddar, pepper jack, provolone, smoked gouda, or any number of toppings. It could also have: mayo, mustard, ketchup, ranch, hummus, barbecue sauce, or any number of sauces. It could be served on: whole wheat, white, sesame seed, rosetta… I think you get my point. These combinations create an almost infinite number of variations under the common label of “burger.” So it is with any label.
We call both garden burgers and buffalo burgers “burgers,” but they are radically different entities, and are often not (though sometimes are) consumed by the same people.
A lot of people dislike labels because they are limiting or because they believe if they choose to embrace a label it is then expected that they will never deviate from that label or appear in any way contradictory to it. This is part of the reason why I embrace a whole string of labels–femme and boi and faggette and genderqueer and drag queen to name a few… and those are just my gender labels–because if I present myself as a whole large group of labels it’s hard to push me into one box, because I’m already spreading myself across a thousand. By embracing a multitude of labels I am also trying to change the way we think about labels, because I can’t be pigeonholed into one label if I openly embrace multiple labels. How could someone choose just one label to put me into?
But I’m a rare case, though not as rare as some may think. Most people are not as comfortable straddling multiple labels, or orbiting multiple identities in the gender galaxy or any other galaxy. My multitude of labels enables me not to be shoved into one box, but how does that help those who don’t feel the pull of multiple identities, or who feel mostly one gender and a little another but who don’t want to embrace the second label fully?
That’s where realizing that while labels have the ability to box you in, they also have the ability to free you so that you have a better idea of yourself but also so that you can figure out the way you think of yourself, or what you think of yourself as, and then be able to move within or beyond that. Labels don’t have to be permanent nor do they have to inform who you are at every moment, just who you are at some moments or most moments or different transitive parts of you. The “problem” with labels can be “solved” by the realization of impermanence and fluidity, and that even if you embrace a label that does not mean you have to fit anyone’s definition of that label but your own.
I am aware that not everyone is obsessed labels in the same way I am (nor have they fetishized them). I don’t mean fetish in the sense of something that I need to get off, though it can in the right context, it’s more of an obsession or a desire. Perhaps more accurately it is actually a language fetish, theory fetish, or analyzation fetish… and there I go trying to nitpick my label of my fetish into something more precise).
Like I’ve said, I believe labels can be extremely useful when thought of in the right context. Labels are also extremely important, they can bring us together as much as they can tear us apart, the problem is so many focus on our differences instead of our similarities.
And I’ll leave you with a quote from The Leather Daddy and the Femme:
Possibly related posts:
You want me to say I’m bisexual because you’re a woman, okay, I’ll say it. It’s no skin off my ass. But I don’t love women. I love you. Far as that goes, I don’t like most men all that much either. But I’d die for the guys in my tribe. Now are you beginning to get it? … See, it’s all well and good to call yourself whatever. I answer to faggot and gay male and leatherman and all those names, but if answering to a name means I can’t do something I decide I want to do, fuck it. And if someone wants to give me shit for what I decide to do, it’s their problem. … some rules exist just to prop up somebody’s prejudice, and they’re bullshit just like any other rule that’s meant to ensure conformity. … I’ve begun to wish more women were like you. Then maybe calling myself bisexual would make sense. Because believe me, if I had any objection to fucking pussy I never would have fucked yours, dear. I did not just screw you that first night to be polite. [bold emphasis added]
One of my new favorite words, one which I’m even considering adding to my long list of labels up on the masthead, I’ve already added it to my gender description. I first encountered the term in the Fagette video by Athens Boys Choir which is absolutely lovely, hilarious, wonderful, and perfect.
Doing a search on google for faggette brings up over 18,600 results which are a mixture of pages with the Athens Boys Choir video on them or linked, personal profiles like myspace or digg, information for people with the last name of Fagette, some is information about La Fagette, France, and random other things. Aside from the video I’m interested in the Urban Dictionary definition of fagette which reads:
A lesbian or a woman that displays either a masculine or feminine attitudes, mannerisms, and dress depending on their whim at the moment.
At the Lesbian Club, Cheri was such a fagette that she was receiving looks of interest from both the Butch and Femme crowd.
As opposed to the simple other definitions: 1. A gay frenchman. Derived from “faggot” and “baguette.” 2. A female homosexual/lesbian. I would say I prefer the first definition of fagette(s) from UD instead of the other for fagette.
Further, I would propose my own definition (as that’s what this post is all about, right?) which brings it slightly away from sexuality, though I would say queer is a necessity as I believe queerness and gender have some sort of link together but queer doesn’t always have to do with who one sleeps with. I really like the “depending on their whim at the moment” part of the definition, and I think that is key for my own feelings and adoption of this label.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my boi side, especially since reading The Leather Daddy and the Femme since it is so amazing and is a queer femme who also dresses as a boi, who has both aspects (genders) within her and plays with both and in between. I have been feeling more of my boi side lately, but also enjoying and analyzing my femme side, yet another “switch” label for me to inhabit, perhaps, switching from boi to femme and back again and everywhere in between.
It’s often difficult to not have a definite place in this gender galaxy, or to be circling around more than one sun. At the same time it’s very freeing, because through embracing these specific labels I am able to then open up my own gender expression to fit inside or outside of the gender lines as I see fit. Just like I feel it’s sometimes necessary to restrict something or go to one extreme in order to find where you really feel comfortable, and I’ve had to do that.
Back to my definition of fagette. Basically I think of it as a queer who mixes masculinity and fem(me)ininity and creates their own version of both, whether their biology is male or female. I know it’s a rather open-ended definition, but I think gender is open-ended in some ways, a lot more open-ended than society would like us to believe anyway. A fagette can look like Athens Boys Choir: a boy with a vagina, or a bio-female drag queen, or like Miranda/Randy of The Leather Daddy and the Femme, or all sorts of other configurations. There’s something about femme masculinity in it (not to be confused with female masculinity), which seems contradictory, in any way but I’m talking simply gender and not biological sex.
There’s a type of femme which can only be achieved by mixing a little masculinity in, I think, the drag queen is a drag queen because it’s putting a feminine gender on the socially “wrong” body, but a similar gender is difficult to achieve when you are putting a similar gender expression, drag queen, on the socially “correct” body. Fagette is recognizing that wrongness, that queerness, and embracing it.
It doesn’t come out as femme drag queen for everyone, that’s just my experience of fagette, having to map it onto my identity in order to have it fit. It’s similar to what I mean by “femme drag queen,” the purposeful combining of femmeininity and masculinity in order to create a new gender all my own, an androgyny that doesn’t come out looking primarily masculine as most androgyny does.
Fagette is not limited to the gender expression “drag queen” as some drag queens are not fagettes, but some fagettes are drag queens. Fagette can encompass any gender which is a mixture of femme and fag (I believe).Possibly related posts:
Yes, I know, it’s not Sunday (again) I’m getting bad at these, but at least I’m trying to stick to the posting schedule even if it is not the right day! And, that’s what backdating is for! My best excuse for being late is that our mama cat had her kittens yesterday! See all five kittens and the mama or just two kittens close-up. I’ll be posting pics on twitter as they progress.
Somethings I’ve been thinking a lot about since starting The Femme’s Guide (I start off too many posts that way, don’t I? Maybe I just think too much): What is femme? What does it mean to be femme? Who can be femme? Is there any sort of limitation on what femme means?
Something I came across a while ago here via The Femme Show was a definition of what femme is, or can be: “[the femme is] a betrayer of legibility itself. Seemingly “normal,” she responds to “normal” expectations with a sucker punch– she occupies normality abnormally.” – Lisa Duan and Kathleen McHugh from “A Fem(me)inist Manifesto” The abnormality in the normality of feminine can be caused by a number of different things, and in all cases conscious choice is the forerunner, but can also be accompanied by a deviant sexual orientation (queer, dyke, lesbian, bi, pan, etc. to which I also include queer heterosexual), biological sex-to-gender allignment (such as femme males), or etc.
My basic definition of a femme is someone who consciously chooses to embrace fem(me)ininity as a “deviant” identity. Femme is a conscious genderfuck in the rouse of traditional femininity. The major difference between a feminine woman and a femme is conscious gender performance, and anyone who consciously takes on the role of femininity as a deviant identity can be femme.
I don’t believe that femme is reserved for any type of person, there are femmes of all sexes, orientations, sizes, colors, etc. The only thing I believe must be present in order to embrace the identity of femme is just that: embracing the identity and consciously performing femmeininity.
This also doesn’t mean that they must be femme all the time, or that it has to be an all-or-nothing experience. I am an advocate (and practitioner) of gender fluidity, and I don’t believe that once an identity is embraced it must be the dominant identity at all times.
This brings me to the question of how is femme deviant? How is being femme any more deviant than being feminine? In a culture which considers femininity to be a counterpart to masculinity and therefore everything that masculinity isn’t: weak, vulnerable, emotional, etc. when a femme consciously chooses to be femme ze is choosing to take on this culturally slandered role. When we consciously choose marginalized roles while recognizing their marginalization we are, in a way, giving power to them. This is, in my mind, deviant and a small way of rebelling against social order.
The big issue with femme, in my opinion and experience, is visibility. It’s often difficult to be recognized as femme as opposed to feminine.Possibly related posts:
So it’s not exactly Sunday, but I can fake it.
Fucktoy is a word I have been struggling to find my own definition of. When I started this blog I originally bought cuntpet.com which I still own and which points to this domain. I then changed it to feministfucktoy.com and now to femmeinistfucktoy.com. The change from cuntpet to feminist fucktoy happened when I realized that cuntpet was an identity, and it would be like owning slave.com or submissive.com and having that as my personal blog, that is, it would be centering this blog around one identity when I am many. I wanted to change that.
I found a shirt from dyketees.com which says “Feminist Fucktoy: Don’t hate the player – Hate the shame” and I absolutely fell in love with it. That shirt is what inspired me to change the name of the blog and website to The Feminist Fucktoy (and then femmeinist came later, of course). I chose the name before I started embracing my Domina side, and so fucktoy has been somewhat difficult for me to embrace as a Domina, but that’s why I defined it the way I did originally in the masthead.
I don’t believe that a fucktoy is someone soley used by another for their pleasure, which is what a common definition of fucktoy is (from what I can tell). Fucktoy is similar to slut in that sense, the common definition of slut is someone who fucks around but who isn’t gaining pleasure for themselves, only giving pleasure to others. In reality a slut can be many things, but the way I choose to view it is that it is someone who embraces hir own sexuality and chooses to engage in sexual activities in order to experience pleasure, both giving and receiving of pleasure. That is how I view fucktoy as well.
A fucktoy isn’t necesarially the one on the bottom, either, despite “toy” being part of the term, which we often equate as something being used. The beauty of a term like fucktoy is it combines an action with a (seemingly) inanimate object: fuck with toy, but toys are not always inanimate, they can do wonderful things (the SaSi comes to mind) and can embrace their given purpose, which is to bring pleasure in one form or another.
So, my (new) definition of fucktoy is as follows: a person who enjoys sex and sexuality with the purpose of giving and receiving pleasure for the benefit of all involved.
Are you a fucktoy too?Possibly related posts:
One of the terms I have in my lexicon but also something that I could expound upon for quite some time. I was talking with someone recently about my idea of the gender galaxy and she said something about liking femininity, not wanting to give it up. I kind of balked at her and asked how that was what I was saying at all. I find it so ridiculous that people assume that taking gender off of a binary means that femininity must go away.
On one hand, it makes sense, because a lot of the work of the feminist movement has been, basically, to do the same work as patriarchy and discredit femininity only from the other side of it, discrediting it from the inside, because it’s constructed. One thing I love about the idea of performativity is that it names everything as a performance, the constructed nature about the way we think about gender, but it doesn’t mean that we all don’t have some sort of pull toward one or many types of gender expression.
But, I digress. The term “gender galaxy” first appeared in Expanding Gender and Expanding the Law: Toward a Social and Legal Conceptualization of Gender that is More Inclusive of Transgender People by Dylan Vade, published in 2005 in the Michigan Journal of Gender and Law. He says:
I suggest a non-linear alternative conceptualization, which I call the gender galaxy. The gender galaxy is a three-dimensional non-linear space in which every gender has a location that may or may not be fixed. For instance, butch woman is one particular gender location. Feminine FTM is another gender location. These are two different valid gender locations that are not linearly related.
The article is fascinating, and I highly encourage you to read it as well, for further information of his explanations. He mentions that generally when we try to go away from the two options of (he uses male and female but to me those are sex categories rather than gender, and so I would say masculine and feminine) gender we move it onto a spectrum instead of just a one-or-the-other option. However, moving it onto a spectrum means it is still grounded in that binary, and his idea of a gender galaxy is moving away from that, as mentioned in the quote above.
Gender galaxy is a term that Sinclair of SugarButch has written about and defines, and I highly encourage all you who haven’t to look at his brilliant writings on the subject. One of the best examples of his writing about the gender galaxy comes from his telling of his journey of learning how to navigate within the gender galaxy and finding his identity as butch:
It took such a long time for me to come to comfortably sit in this butch identity, for me to (if we’ll continue the metaphor) navigate the gender galaxy, and find a comfortable orbit around an identity label. Some of us don’t ever settle into that – some of us are radical little spaceships that explore treasures from all sorts of different worlds and words that we orbit. I guess the trick is, in my opinion, to simply find the routes that are the best to navigate (not necessarily the easiest, but the most satisfying), the orbits where there is plenty of oxygen, the alliances that create treaties and share resources and have excellent adventures.
We basically have to make our own gender galaxy maps. And while some gender mapmaking tools – queer theory, gender theory, postmodern theory, queer literature, smut and the language of lesbian desires – while some tools help immensely, I still couldn’t quite escape the praxis, the application of the theory, because of the ways that the social constraints and social policing affected my own process deeply.
I’m working on a post of my own personal galaxy map to femme, how I’ve gotten here, what it means to me, and I’m hoping to be done with that soon. In the meantime, you have Sinclair’s to reference and my ideas of gender galaxy to ponder, as follows.
Basically I see the gender galaxy as having lots of little solar systems, with the sun or focal point of that solar system being a certain gender identity. There are some people who stay in orbit around one sun. Some are closer than others, like the difference between Mercury and Jupiter, and some are farther away and have irregular courses like Neptune. Still others are asteroids or comets, moving around multiple solar systems, moving through the gender galaxy itself without one focal point or another. Some people may inhabit two planets or three or four. The beauty of the gender galaxy is the limitless amount of possibilities.
Obviously, as my own gender identity is femme and therefore includes femininity (or, femmeininity) I am not anti-femininity, nor do I believe that gender should be abolished or that the gender galaxy is getting rid of gender, on the contrary. Gender is even more emphasized in some ways in the gender galaxy, except instead of confining it the gender galaxy makes gender overly available. Opening up gender from a gender binary or even a gender continuum to a gender galaxy makes it so that there are no expressions of gender that are considered incorrect. We would no longer be able to fail at gender, either, as there is no set limits as to what gender is or could be.Possibly related posts:
So I, basically, shun the word “slave” as many of you may know, and yet I still use the term Master. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and the more I think about it the less I like the term “Master.” It implies some of the same things that “slave” does, only from the other end of it, my problem thus far as been the lack of a better term.
The terms Sir and Lord just are not that appealing to me either. I can appreciate the appeal, but I just don’t have a strong tie to either of them, so they don’t do much for me. While I can understand the desire for either, neither of them click with me, they don’t seem quite fitting. I hear Sir flung around like crazy online, and Lord just seems like a little much.
I like the term Owner, it’s a little more neutral than Master, though has similar connotations, not all of them bad, however. Owner is closer to what I want than Master is, but it’s still not quite right. It sounds strange to call someone Owner, such as “Owner just said something funny,” it doesn’t quite work the same way Master does, it just sounds a little funny.
I like the term Dominus as well, technically it means both Lord and Master, and doesn’t have all the same connotations as Master or even Owner does. I talked extensively about my use of the term Domina just last Sunday, and I feel similarly with the term Dominus, it’s regal and delicious. I left the post by asking about why people don’t use the term Dominus, and maybe I will begin to. The problem with Dominus is similar to Owner, “Dominus just said something funny,” sounds strange as well. Perhaps I just need to either shift my perspective on it, or choose one.
The biggest component of this, really, is how Master/Owner/Dominus feels about it. I haven’t really talked to him about it, but I plan on it. I like referring to him by a title, as he is the only one which I do call by a title. It takes a lot for me to call someone by a title, just as it takes a lot for me to say anything which I mean and which could make me in the least bit vulnerable. He is one of the few people that I have ever called Master, and possibly the last.Possibly related posts:
Semantics Sunday is the day for me to write my own definition of a word, how I feel about a word, and how it relates to me personally and my own identities. This could be anything sexual, gender, bdsm, and poly/relationship oriented, or anything else I feel like throwing in. This is simply my definition and understanding of the word, and not meant to be the only definition that is or could be. If you have an alternate definition, if you agree with my interpretation, or if you have something to add which I left out or which needs correcting, feel free to let me know in the comments!
For my first Semantics Sunday I figured I should use a word that is near and dear to my heart. Since I have already given my lengthy definition of cuntpet I decided I should focus on the other of my identities: Domina.
I recently created a new channel on irc.bondage.com, where I am quite frequently, called #Fiery_Dominas. This is the first channel with Domina in the channel name, which is part of the reason why I started it, however it has inspired comments such as “What is dominas? Dommes plural?” which is relatively ridiculous considering for one thing, Dommes is Domme plural, and for another thing Domina is a fantastic and real Latin word, unlike Domme, which is a slang term.
Now, on one hand, I feel there is nothing wrong with slang terms, and think that they should be used and incorporated, and Domme basically incorporates Dom and Femme (as in french for female, not queer femme), which is not horrible in general, and is rather logical. However, now that I have discovered and embraced Domina, Domme sounds silly to me, it is nowhere near as linguistically luscious or regal-sounding as Domina is, and it doesn’t inspire the same awe. I also feel that Domina is a much more feminine term than Domme, which is partly why I’m so partial to it as well.
Basically, Domina comes from the Latin root dom- found in other such words as dominate, domify, domicile, and domestic, as well as domin- such as dominant and dominus. From various sources I find that “dom-” actually relates to a household or realm, and the actual Latin translation of Domina or Dominus (the male counterpart), is “Lady or Lord of the house/realm.” This makes sense, considering dom- relating also to words such as domicile and domestic. The prefix domin- alone (supposedly) indicates regal status, such as Lady/Lord, or Mistress/Master, which is why Domina is the feminine and Dominus is the masculine (the suffix -a being feminine, and the suffix -us being masculine).
This brings us to the question, if we use Dom and not Dominus, why should we use Domina and not Domme? Well, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t ever use Domme, I’m just saying that I don’t want to use Domme, and furthermore, we could use Dominus as well, should a male dominant desire to be called that. I’m not going to condemn others for using the term Domme, but I do not identify with the term and will not be using it for myself or for others unless specifically requested.Possibly related posts: