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The Rapists of Sodom

were serial rapists, who drank heavily to fuel their crimes, attacked visitors in gangs, lusted after the power of angels, knew first hand of the God/dess but refused morality and cheated and lied and thieved. And raped. Raped. Over and over. In mobs.

Will religious leaders have you believe they were destroyed them for raping men instead of women? For an alleged sexual orientation? Are these “leaders” the depraved minds with whom you entrust your faith? The leaders who claim a beloved Prophet would offer his daughters to rapists?

I have incredible compassion for Prophet Lut. The circumstances through which his Prophethood was tried—interrogation and subjugation through rape—are described in the Qur’an itself as devices in a network of sins so horrendous they are unlike any crimes ever committed in the history of creation, and this is only among the sins the Qur’an dares to name. We also delivered Lut and he said to his people: “Do you commit lewdness such as no people in creation ever committed before you?” 7:80. It is for humanity through these ghastly trials that Lut is among those favored over the worlds (6:86).

Scholars miss the fact that the Qur’an alludes to other sins taking place in the city of Sodom that are so horrifying it is deemed best for humanity not to describe them, except to say that they were abominations. Instead, Muslims reduce the activity of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah to “consensual” sex between men, rather than to establishing a hierarchy via rape. This is because the story of Lut’s attempted redemption of his people is single-handedly a critique of patriarchy so embarrassing for patriarchal scholars that they are meekly left to resort to diverting attention to their homophobia instead in order to justify their bigoted, colonized beliefs.

To accomplish this, the male ulema offer a mendacious interpretation of the story of Lut: in what can only be described as a desecration of the Qur’an, your leaders gloss over the fact that all sexes in Sodom and Gomorrah are punished for having created and actively participated in a network of rape. They tactically remove verses from the context of subjugation via rape by hyperfocusing on verses that make any allusion to sex such as 7:81: “Do you approach the men lustfully besides the women; no, you are a people transgressing beyond bounds.” Subsequently what male scholars illegalize is not rape (because why would anyone want to do that), but same-sex intercourse.

But we use the Qur’an to explain itself, and the meaning of this line is elaborated in 26:165-166, which repeats and clarifies, “Do you approach the men of the world”—note here the reference to travel and travelers, which is important in the domination and subjugation of outsiders—“and leave what the God/dess has created of your mates?”— the additional sin of adultery in this gender-neutral use of mates rather than women, referring specifically to the spouses these men married already rather than women as a sex—“No. You are a people transgressing.” It is all of these sins combined—rape, subjugation, humiliation, xenophobia, adultery, and sexism—that comprise the horrific crimes of Sodom.

The Qur’an is very strategic in its delivery when recounting religious history. Any young girl reciting the Qur’an in her early childhood has a disorientating awareness that events are not only out of order but merging into each other. The story of Lut is told in parts over five to six surahs, and it is most notably interwoven with the story of Ibrahim (29:31-32). This is partly because Lut is the nephew of Ibrahim, as all Prophets were closely or very distantly related to one another, and partly because these interwoven stories inform each other. A significant commonality is that both Ibrahim and Lut deeply desired the presence of their children and had a hand in transforming the traditionally sacrificial roles of children.

Ibrahim, who interprets his dream calling him to sacrifice his son as being a vision from the God/dess, for the very first time requests his son’s consent to the sacrifice. This event and what follows—the declination of the sacrifice by the God/dess—marks the end of child sacrifice as a religious ritual in the tradition which Islam recites. Meanwhile Lut, in Sodom, is faced with rapists who are ready to break his door for access to his guests. Lut, whose daughters are grown and married, routinely expresses a profound loneliness. “Would that I had power to suppress you or that I could take refuge in strong support!” (11:80) Lut cries mournfully, because though he has Divine support he is yearning for the comfort of his family and specifically his daughters. He sounds at every turn of his devastation very much like a father who misses his daughters, a father who misses his children who have moved away.

It is why, when the rapists crowd outside of his home, wild in their intoxication (11:72) and in the habit of rape (11:78) and having heard that he has visitors, Lut claims quickly from his own wistfulness that it is not outsiders who have come to visit him, but his own daughters. The townspeople will not rape their own.

“These are my daughters. They are purer for you,” (11:78) Lut pleads urgently to the rapists attempting to force their way into his home, because the townspeople consider their own to be purer—and superior—to travelers. He submits to their logic in a vain attempt to reason with them.

Every exegete in history before me has interpreted 11:78, 15:71 to mean that Lut is offering his daughters to the rapists rather than suggesting to Sodom that it is his daughters who are his guests, not angels. But Lut’s daughters are never present in the text. They do not live with him and the Qur’an offers only ghostly references to them. What is happening is clear: far from offering his visibly absent daughters to rapists, Lut is attempting instead to convince the crowd that his guests behind the doors are his own daughters, not foreigners. His daughters do not reside with him; they belong to different houses. It is easy then that he passes them off/refers to them as visitors. “So fear the God/dess, and do not shame me in front of my guests!” he cries. In front of his daughters, whose shame in the eyes of the townspeople is worthy of considering. “Is there not among you a single right-minded man?” (11:78)

The rapists dismiss this notion. They would not be there if Lut were with his daughters. “We have no use of your daughters; you know what we want,” (11:79) they snarl back to him, and their disbelief that his daughters were visiting him adds to the misery of the situation. It is then that Lut resolves to sigh, “Would that I had power to suppress you or that I could betake myself to support,” (11:80) because he is, in fact, alone, without his daughters, the sole protector of his guests on this “distressful day” (11:77). His wife, quite evidently, is of no help.

Lut’s yearning for familial support is why, when the angel messengers reveal themselves to him, they order him to take his daughters and leave the city (11:81). His wife is to be left behind with the rest of the rapists, who are treated with showers of “brimstone, hard as clay, layer after layer” (11:82, 54:35). Lut’s people are not the only ones who have been destroyed for irreversible damage upon the earth. Prophet Shu’ayb warns, “And, oh, my people! Let not my dissent cause you to sin, lest you suffer the fate of the people of Noah or of Hud or of Salih, nor are the people of Lut far off from you!” (11:89) And yet it is only in this example of Lut that jurists attempt in vain to show homosexuality is a sin.

Yet the Qur’an describes over and over again the full extent of these crimes as patriarchal violations of the utmost malevolence. “Do you indeed approach men, and cut off the highway? And practice evil even in your councils?” (29:29) the verses read in outraged devastation, for the people of Sodom twisted an expression of love into a device of suppression, an act of inexcusable violence.

Analogous to soldiers weaponizing rape in war in order to subdue and interrogate the enemy as tools of sexual domination and humiliation, the crimes of Sodom were of married heterosexual men aggressively using their power over vulnerable populations—namely, those who were in a state of travelling, of temporarily being without homes and susceptible in this transitional state.

This is all of course misogyny: another, very violent example of woman-hating against which the Qur’an rails. Visitors, like prisoners in our contemporary colonizing systems, were raped to strip them of their masculinity, because that is how patriarchy works. Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, the wars in which xenophobes rape to subjugate the populations whose nations they’ve invaded… that is Sodom.

Your scholars will not admit this to you. They will imply to you instead without knowing, that Lut committed this very crime when he offered his daughters to rapists, slandering the purer actions of the Prophet against him. They will have you believe it was honorable of him. They will twist acts of love into violent weapons of war to justify their hatred. Nor are the people of Lut far off from you indeed.

Cruelty of “Acceptance”

When I was young (14-16), I’d witnessed straight male classmates make jokes to their bi and gay friends about how they better not hit on them. Since then, I’d seen other straight women do this too. The cruelty with which this “acceptance” was laced was so obvious to me. How is not immediate to someone how traumatizing and messed up this is to say to a person who’s already on edge about how they’re constantly sexualized and depicted as predatory or undesired. You all make me want to cry with how empathetically challenged you are. And that’s only secondhand. You don’t deserve those friends.

Critique and Complacency in Examining Gender as a Performance

A couple of years ago, photographs of men in stereotypical ‘pin-up’ poses circulated the Internet. The photographs, featuring men accessorized with ‘masculine’ items but contorted in ‘feminine’ poses, are by artist Rion Sabean, and I encountered them rather early on in the feminist blogosphere. The general consensus by feminist commentators was that they were exceptional–an exhibition, it was declared after examination, of gender and sexuality as a performance.

I did not find them quite so brilliant.

The artist is a man, I believe, but in this instance I am unconcerned with his sex or his intentions. I don’t believe they were malicious, and I don’t believe it matters in this case. What I am critical of, however, is the reception of these photographs. In many articles, including the one linked above, the project is described as ‘humorous.’ And indeed, the reaction of most people, when first seeing a picture like this, is to sneer uncomfortably.

This I can say with the certainty of observation, because roughly a year, or maybe even just a few months, after I came across these photographs, my women’s studies professor at the time (I was an undergrad then and, for those of you who don’t know, minored in women’s studies–a decision I came to regret) introduced them to our class. I remember this clearly because I might have been the only one to groan. She had believed they were exceptionally clever. And it did not disturb her the least that every single student, with the exception of yours truly, reacted to them by laughing.

Instead, she interpreted the laughter as indicative of an awareness that the performance of feminine sexuality is just that–a performance–and therefore looks out-of-place anywhere where one is not used to seeing it. Because, you know, performing femininity is ridiculous and such. And this project just draws focus to it, employing the displacement as magnification.

Expecting women to confine themselves to restrictive expressions of sexuality is ridiculous. But what’s not ridiculous are those expressions of sexuality themselves, especially when they are something that have come to define femininity, to temper it, to make it recognizable as gentle, expressive, playful or alert, invitingly sly. In front of a camera and a photographer, it can be argued that this is laughably disingenuous. But in life, in every day, in the flickering glance of a woman walking by or the fluttering motion or suggestive smile, it is not a “performance”–it is a mannerism. It is something she has become, that I’ve become, that we have become, have adopted as fluid to our gender and sexual identities. And that is what the photographs relocate onto these men. And that is what is supposed to be ‘humorous.’

The disparagement of feminine gestures or behaviors, even when embedded in the critique that they are constructed, is violent toward the feminine psyche. And the ridiculing of men who adopt them, who are ‘feminized,’ is a continuation of that violence. The photographs themselves don’t do this; as art, they simply ‘displace’ indicators of femininity onto male subjects for our interpretation, but our quick reaction to laugh—not in surprise, but in contempt—certainly does. And I would say this is a case where the reaction of the audience, and our involvement in the perpetuation the hatred of femininity, is to be critiqued as part of the artwork itself.

Unfortunately the idea that feminine behaviors are worthy of ridicule, even when those particular behaviors are demonstrable of intelligence, is something to which our culture is all too well-accustomed. On another “humor” site with a complete list of things women “need to understand” about men (as if) is the following:

ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings. Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is.

Dude, if you can’t tell the difference between peach and pumpkin you’re an asinine blockhead. Here, let me help you out:

Can't tell the difference? You might be suffering from Giant Douchebag Syndrome.
Can’t tell the difference? You might be suffering from Giant Douchebag Syndrome. Common causes include people pretending you’re funny, having been raised as though you’re precious & insightful, and the XY chromosome.

Being so dense you can’t see that? That’s not a thing to brag about.

There’s an article… somewhere on the Internet… (let me know if you’re able to locate to what I’m referring) written by a woman describing how men actually benefit from the blonde stereotype. That is, when women lack any common knowledge in an area, they are ridiculed (and are the subject of an entire series of well-known jokes) whereas when men are unable to figure out how to use detergent or cook a meal, their ignorance is not only forgiven but indulged. The writer explains that her partner was quite active before they lived together, but as soon as they moved in he began to whine about how to do things and to feign not understanding, which resulted of course, in her doing them for him while he sat back and watched T.V.

LGBT people get to decide whether you are their ally; you don’t.

This email has been brought to you by questions from straight people like yours truly.

To “fellow allies” or whatever, I don’t know whether I’m an LGBT ally. I don’t talk about how much of an ally I am or about being an ally. That is because the decision is not mine.

My intention is to be an ally to the LGBT community, but as intentions are insignificant and a bit egotistical in the face of people feeling the excruciating suffocation of STOP PICTURING ME HAVING SEX AND THEN DECIDING MY RIGHTS ACCORDINGLY GODDAMIT, it is for LGBT people to decide whether my actions are helpful or hurtful in their effort of liberation from the weirdly sex-obsessed tyranny of people like me. There have been and are too many instances of a straight “ally” saying / doing totally offensive crap and then talking about how it’s okay because of ally-ness and so they actually support LGBT people and thus can get away with saying / doing totally offensive crap. Well guess what, straight person! You’re not an ally if an LGBT person says you’re not an ally because you’re not behaving like one. So you will have to find a different excuse for your behavior, like, “Actually, I’m a dunderface.”

To bigots / the perverts who can’t think about LGBT people without picturing them having sex, or whatever–yes, consider me your enemy.

a note to LGBT Muslims

Over the past couple of years I’ve received some messages in my inbox asking for advice. I can’t imagine why anyone would ask me, a straight woman, about advice coming out, except out of desperation and having nowhere else to turn. It breaks my heart to know I can’t help you because I can’t possibly know what you’re going through, but from what I have seen, all I can offer is this:

–If you are sure your parents are going to freak out, wait until you are financially independent to tell them

–If you suspect that your parents are not going to freak out, wait until you are financially independent to tell them, because they might just freak out

–Don’t depend on your parents, siblings, and friends not freaking out. You may think they will love you no matter what. Unfortunately you may be in for a surprise.

If this means that you have to wait a couple of years, then wait for your own best interest, even if it is eating you alive from the inside. I have seen terrible things happen to friends who came out to their parents–they were basically put through hell until they were able to move out. That means emotional, psychological, and even threats of physical abuse. That means the looming possibility of suicide. And hell, it’s not me it happened to, it’ll never be me it happened to, so I can’t just say that it’s better to wait than go through all of that for the sake of getting it off your chest, but I’m making a judgement call and saying that it probably is; that the feeling of relief from letting it out probably won’t be worth the anguish and torment that you might endure if you are still dependent.

I don’t mean to frighten you, or discourage you, but I do mean to see to it that you make sure your safety is first. I don’t doubt that there are some wonderful parents, that there will be those among you who will wish that you hadn’t heeded this advice because when you do tell your parents you’ll think about how you could have fallen securely into their accepting embrace ages ago and rested easy. But from my second hand experience, these types of coming out scenarios are rare. Unless your parent comes straight out and tells you, “People are so shit to LGBT folk, I wouldn’t care if you were attracted to the same sex, and I’d love you” it’s probably safer to wait until you needn’t subject yourself to their fury in order to survive.

It is incredibly frustrating, and incredibly unfair, and sometimes when something is just festering inside of you you can’t even always control when you let it out anyway, and I know. Well, I don’t know. But you know. I can only ask if there is some other outlet for you to relieve your frustrations in the meanwhile; confide in friends at the GSA at your school, for example, make connections so that it’s not so hard on you. And so that you have resources–anything that is psychologically soothing, treat yourself to it.

Sometimes that support simply isn’t available, in which case you might have to go out of your way to find it. I am so sorry. I am sorry straight people are such jerks, I am sorry I can’t have more words to give you; please watch our for yourself until you can take care of yourself, and then some, I love you.

Sweater. (and modesty)

When I was very little, I attended Quranic classes at the mosque with other small children. On one occasion, I stood lined up for prayer while the instructor lectured on prayer etiquette. It was midsummer in California. The heat was almost unbearable. My hair was uncovered, but I was wearing a sweater, and I felt dizzy. I knew what I needed to do: remove the sweater. But I couldn’t, because I recognized that when I lifted it over my head, it would pull the shirt I wore beneath it up along with it part way, which is what sometimes happens with six-year-old children. And I couldn’t have everyone see that. And I was too shy to ask to leave the prayer area; if I asked to leave for the restroom now (where no one would see me), I thought, the instructor would admonish me for poor planning. So, standing there in the boiling festering heat gathering beneath the sweater until I saw blue and purple, refusing to remove it, what did I do?

I passed out.

The last thing I remembered as I was falling to my knees is the otherwise austere instructor looking at my face with the softest, most concerned expression I had ever seen on his. “Nahida? Nahida? What is happening?! Nahida!” And then everything went dark.

I woke up with my head on a pillow, still in the prayer area. The other children were gone. Someone had removed the sweater. My mother was beside me. I sat up and began to cry.

She was having none of that. “Nahida, what on earth? Stop it. Now tell me what happened.”

“I was hot.”

“Okay. Well why didn’t you take off the sweater?”

I knew why I hadn’t; I could not, however, find the words to explain it to her.

She frowned. “Nahida, you are not that young of a child. You can take off your own sweater.”

Well of course I had had the ability! My eyes welled up again. I was in a foul mood. “I want to go home.”

“She was burning up,” explained my instructor. “After she fainted. It was like she had a fever of over a hundred. It was raging.”

***

It is summer in California again. The heat has returned.

“Hell is hotter,” lectures the man without hi’jab.

***

I am not a modest woman.

At least, not in what is accepted as the traditional sense. Whether or not what is broadly conventional is really “traditional” is highly suspect, as the Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World states, “The term hijab or veil is not used in the Qur’an to refer to an article of clothing for women or men, rather it refers to a spatial curtain that divides or provides privacy. The Qur’an instructs the male believers (Muslims) to talk to wives of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) behind a hijab. This hijab was the responsibility of the men and not the wives of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W). However, in later Muslim societies this instruction, specific to the wives of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W), was generalized, leading to the segregation of the Muslim men and women.” But in every sense of the word that is widely accepted by the contemporary Islamic community, I am not a modest woman. While I do prefer longer sleeves and habitually wear flowing skirts, and even considering what I cover merely in terms of surface area being more conservative than the average woman in my society, what I wear is nearly always form-fitting. And to boot, I look men straight in the eye.

Tell the believing men
that they shall subdue their gaze
(and not stare at the women),
to maintain their chastity.
This is purer for them.
God is fully Cognizant
of everything they do.
And tell the believing women
to subdue their gaze, and to be mindful
of their chastity, and not to show off
parts of their adornment [in public] beyond
what may [decently] be apparent
or obvious thereof;
hence, let them draw their covers
over their bosoms. (Qur’an 24:30—31)

I look everyone straight in the eye. Granted, I don’t interpret “subdue their gaze” as meaning “don’t make eye contact” and I think it’s ridiculous that it has been interpreted as such. Understandable—even admirable (when it isn’t enforced solely on women while men look directly and steadily on contrary to the very first part of the verse, that is)—but ridiculous. I’ve been told, as other women have also reported in the comment section they’ve been told, that my gaze is too intense as to be suggestive. This does not happen only when I am intently paying attention. It happens even when I’m merely daydreaming. And when used to police women’s bodies and behaviors, this is an alarming, thoroughly disturbing indication that anything can and will be exploited to justify severe, intolerable restrictions of women’s freedoms. As xcwn writes, these regulations “reinforced the idea that men’s gaze at women (provided that it had the veneer of religiosity) was in fact God’s gaze. That the men ranting on about women’s supposed immodesty were somehow reflecting how God saw us. They claimed as much.” And it is yet another example of patriarchy existing in direct conflict with God, attempting to displace God with its own power structure which it claims is a replicate of Divine Ordinance. From a historical perspective, and the perspective of the Qur’an itself, nothing has been a greater enemy to Islam than patriarchy. Patriarchy is organized shirk. It is the very infusion of redefining terms of liberation and empowerment into viciously twisted devices of imprisonment to male interpretation of womanhood and circumscribing a structure of worship in place of the one directed by God.

Those who harass believing
men and believing women
without their having done wrong,
bear (on themselves) a calumny
and a grievous sin.
O Prophet! Enjoin your wives,
your daughters, as well as other
believing women that they should
cast their outer garments
over their persons (when abroad):
That is most convenient,
that they may be distinguished
and not be annoyed. […] (Qur’an 33:58–59)

In many translations “annoyed” is translated as “harassed” (also correct in a particular understanding) prompting the modern interpreter to conclude that women are Islamically held responsible for thwarting harassment, disregarding both the context in which the lines themselves are embedded and in which the verses were revealed; the very first lines blame the harassers, not the harassed, and the purpose of this revelation was to visually distinguish the Prophet’s wives so that others acted appropriately toward them: as the perpetual hostesses to an unremitting routine of visitors seeking the Prophet’s advice, they were continuously given little privacy or rest.

My immodesty is not related to passing out at the age of six, though the incident was a demonstration of how harmful slut-shaming, body-policing attitudes toward women are, to the point at which even young children would choose to faint rather than endure it. I know for a fact I would have preferred form-fitted clothing if the event had never transpired. I like slitted skirts because I think they are attractive. And I wear them. I even wear them to look attractive, to smile when I pass by a mirror. I love them because I love beauty, and because it was once Islamic to love beauty, as Seyyed Hossein Nasr notes in Traditional Islam in the Modern World (via Afshan), “Traditional Islamic civilization is marked by its emphasize [sic] upon beauty being wedded to every aspect of human life, from the chanting of the Quran to the making of pots and pans. The traditional Islamic ambience, both the plastic and the sonoral, have always been beautiful, for traditional Islam sees beauty as a complement of the Truth.”

A’isha bint Talha defiantly proclaimed, “God the Almighty distinguished me by my beauty, and not to keep me hidden from sight! I want everyone to see this, and acknowledge my superiority over them. I will not veil. No one can force me to do anything.”

I love hair flowers and hi’jab pins and the “camel hump” and other decorative ornaments that make hi’jab “immodest” and “invalidate” the purpose. And if it distracts, you dear brother—

You will lower your fucking gaze.

I hope you are all enjoying the summer. I’ve seized the opportunity to wear decorative hats with blasphemously large white flowers

and begin to feel leisurely at the heat, lashes lowered sleepily and all.

I can still subdue my gaze in them, as purpose of a sun hat is to shield one’s eyes. No one can complain the look in my eyes is too intensive.

;) Happy summer.

On sexual knowledge

Very briefly, I’d like to address the annoying and incessant reemergence of a peculiar social/unfortunately feminist phenomenon: the defining of sexual pleasure in rigid constraints and the application of these constraints to the criteria of a feminist accordingly.

You may be familiar with it.

Not long after Role/Reboot republished a post I had written months earlier, I was accused. (“J’accuse!”) I had offended a feminist! Because I was not having enough sex, or something:

I’m trying not to let my anger and amazement get the best of me here, but how can any female call herself ‘feminist’ if she does not masturbate, has never really done so and admits to knowing “nothing of the workings of my own body or where anything is”? Every adult female should understand the workings of her body, know where EVERYthing is and know how to give herself an orgasm. Instead of thanking religion, we should be working to free women from the mental and physical enslavement of its prejuduce, ignorance, sexism and cruelty.

*massive eye roll* (Also, did she just refer to me as a “female”?!)

The article in question made it clear that Islam and feminism had rectified my sexual ignorance—the sexual ignorance that patriarchy promotes—not contributed to it. This was made so clear in the piece, in fact, that I can not believe anyone could be this deficient in reading comprehension. What’s more likely is that this woman believes what she wants to believe: that she is the white knight of all ignorant Muslim women everywhere! Her very assessment is structured in colonialism.

I don’t mind Islam being held accountable for my virginity—it’s a reason after all—but I sure as hell mind when it’s held accountable for my sexual ignorance. This infuriates me. My lack of sexual knowledge is a consequence of patriarchy, not of Islam—and in fact, my religion is responsible for my comfort, security, and safety. And yet I’m never released from the exertion of these indictments against Islam, the very religion that had assured me that sexual desires were natural and acceptable, and—even more strongly relevant to me—that so was my mild disinterest.

Additionally, I am highly uncomfortable with the fetishizing way that a Muslim woman’s sexuality is tied to her religion. While there is an additional harmful element of perceived exoticism when we’re talking about Muslim women in particular, I understand that this comes with the disturbing territory of eroticizing women who are allegedly unwilling or unknowing—the “Catholic schoolgirl” fetish. And when the context is Islam and Muslim women, it’s a context of marginalized and politicized experiences distorted and misshapen to sexually satisfy those in a privileged position and to define a woman’s identity based on harmful presumptions and forceful expectations. Fetish is confused with identity, and a woman’s right to her identity and to her expression of that identity is consequently destructively confiscated. This is partly why my initial reaction to Love, Inshallah was extremely cautious and less than thrilled; I was incredibly wary of the potentially detrimental conclusions drawn from this framework of exposure.

In a discussion with a classmate in which I disclosed that I don’t find vibrators the least bit appealing (they are cold and pastic and resemble dismembered body parts), the classmate attempted to convince me that there are all kinds! Well, I’m sure there are, and I would have had no problem with her informing me of this (though I firmly maintain my opinion), if she had not just previously realized I was a virgin and had declared that it was “adorable.” She was presenting this concept of all kinds! of vibrators as if it were new information explained to a child.

Feminism recognizes that women are responsible and powerful, and that a decision to not have sex isn’t “adorable” but an application of freely giving and withholding consent.

In other words, if I hadn’t then known the anatomy of my vagina, I didn’t have to do or know anything this intimate until I was ready and it unraveled naturally. I understand I’m a certain type of woman; I realize that for some women—maybe even for most women—these things don’t simply “unravel naturally.” But I knew myself well enough to recognize that it would for me, and it did. A couple of months ago it simply occurred to me that I recognized where the clitoral hood is located, and relative to that was everything else (including, as I realized in astonishment, the crescent-shaped hymen obstructing part of the vaginal opening.)

As a friend of mine worded recently, I get off more on fantasy than sensation. I’m sure sensation would help, but it’s not something I require. And for now I’m content with this, and anyone with an urge to revoke my feminist card can go fuck herself. I mean that literally–you go do it, I don’t want to, and that is fine.

What’s alarming is our tendency to trivialize female pleasure by neglecting to recognize the range of full-body sensuality, and reducing pleasure to penetration or physical masturbation by dismissing fantasy and/or the whole of sensuality as “foreplay” or merely a preamble to sex.