I just got home from a much-needed vacation.  I’m not referring to a literal suitcase with that title, though.  I read lots of blogs dealing with racism and sexism (sometimes both at once! Good thing I’m clever!), and if you weren’t aware, unpacking is what we people who like to discuss these issues do.  You take your issue, or specific event, and just like it was a suitcase you take everything out and check it over.  It’s easier to do in writing, since no one can butt in or yell at you while you’re working shit out on paper.  It can be done in a discussion, but it gets harder when the discussion is happening during drinking time or if people involved in the discussion are horribly ignorant and need to go back to Not Being An Asshole 101 at their local community college or if they’re just plain bad at listening (good listening skills are covered in Not Being An Asshole 101, actually).

The last leg of my vacation was spending a few days at a fetish event.  It’s been years since I’ve been to one, and I’d never been to this particular one before.  I got my sea legs (sex legs?  what do you call them in this case?) back pretty quickly; it was just like riding a bicycle, if not easier!  I got some ideas of things to write about, but before I move on to any of that, I’ve got to unpack.  One thing I love about this sort of party is there are clearly defined rules, unlike the party going on at a bar or frat house (disclaimer: I’ve never actually been to a frat party).  Yes, you can walk around with as little clothing as you’d like and people have to ask before they do anything but look.  If you say no, that’s it.  End of story.  Occasionally, someone will try some sketchy shit, but then they get kicked out and everyone else makes fun of them.

The thing I don’t love is that, humans being what they are, everyone has their own baggage and they don’t always come prepared to handle it.  The following is a true story of What I Did Not Do Because Some People Can’t Unpack Their Damn Baggage.

First off, the trip to the event:

I rode up with a couple I had met not too long ago.  I don’t know either of them very well, but it was a convenient rideshare for me.  At one point during the drive, a billboard featuring a fit shirtless man sparked a brief conversation about male strippers.  The male half of the couple said something about the women who go see male strip shows being mean and too forward with the men, and added that he “didn’t want to hear anything from the feminists about female strippers being objectified when that shit was happening”.  The first thing I said was, “Female strippers ARE objectified. It’s a valid point, and the one does not negate the other.”*  Among my friends (who are all intelligent and reasonably well-informed folks) the conversation would have gotten interesting from there.  This boy had nothing further to say, so I didn’t go on because I was sure if I did I’d have to start with Why Our Society Sucks For Both Sexes, But In Different Ways, and then Actually, Some Feminists Like Sex And Even Men, and neither of those tutorials are appropriate when 1) The person who needs them does not want to hear them, 2) Said person was just trying to assert his poor self and all the xy folk over The Feminists, and 3) You are stuck in the car with said person for a couple more hours and relying on him for a ride back home as well.  It’s taken a while, but I’ve learned to back off in these situations unless the other party wants to get into a real conversation.

On to the bonus round!  Guess who propositioned me during the weekend and got turned down!  (For an extra point, guess who I’m not going to take a road trip with in the future!)

Second example:

There was a man at this event that I’d slept with before.  I was all set to sleep with him again.  The first night was all well and good, and I met plenty of new people and flirted with plenty of people, and looked at plenty of people.  One of the many people I met the first night was a black man.  Well, at some point the next night, Man I’d Slept With Before (MISWB, from now on) said he’d like to watch me with “the colored man”.  He was on his way into some sexy talk that I’d normally listen to, but I interrupted with, “EXCUSE ME?  Did you just call that man COLORED?”

I may not have used this term in the blog before, but I’m a sapiosexual.  I find intelligence sexy.  I also find it sexy when people can recognise intelligence.  Recognition in this case would have meant saying, “I’m sorry, I heard that a lot growing up and it sometimes slips out when I’m drunk.  You’re right, I can’t believe I just said that!  I’m so embarrassed!”  Did that happen?  No.  Attempts at sexy talk plowed on.  Again, I decided not to press the issue.  I’m feeling a bit conflicted about this now.  That first example was, for me, clear-cut.  Everyone was sober and I had personal reasons not to start a discussion that might turn ugly while on the road.  This one, though, is a bit muddy for me.  At the time, the better angels of my nature would have pushed the issue and demanded to know why that word was being used by a white man in this century.  Instead, I took his lack of response as a sign of sheer ignorance and decided to just walk away.

Second Bonus Round!  Guess who just took himself off the “People I Might Have Sex With In The Future” list!

This second one, I do want to talk about a bit more.  I feel like any decent person would look at that comment from MISWB and say “Oh, Hell No!”, as I do, but I have a few specific things to add:

1) But Sanguine, aren’t racial fetishes a valid part of the vast ocean of fetishy goodness?

Probably, yes.  Pretty much anything that exists has people who have explored it as deeply as is possible.  Racial fetishes are not on that list for me for three reasons.  Firstly, I don’t have any.  An attractive person is attractive to me regardless of race.  The end.  Secondly, I am entirely aware that people who do have racial fetishes sometimes impose them on members of that race in unwelcome and sometimes disgusting ways.  I am not cool with that, and it leads us to . . . . Third, the main fetishes that come to mind for me are the virile black man and submissive Asian woman.  Both of these owe a lot (if not their entire existence) to larger stereotypes about race that are just plain fucked up and I will have nothing to do with them.  If someone belonging to a non-white race wants to play around with any of that it is their own business and thus outside of the scope of my opinion.  All of that is why I am not qualified to tell you anything more about it.

2) Sanguine, you’re overreacting!  People used to use that language all the time!  And also, why do you use the term black and not African-American?

Well, that just about exposes an interesting double-standard I might have.  Oh, wait, no it doesn’t.  I use the term black because that’s what I was taught growing up (Gen X if you need a time frame).  Yes, other people grew up before “black” was in use and still use seriously outdated terms.   MISWB is not old enough for this to be a good excuse.  His parents are, but you know what?  My otherwise very enlightened father still refers to people as “Oriental”.  He has not been able to shake the term he grew up with, but every time he uses it in front of his kids (for example, at Christmas when we usually all make it home at the same time) we all chorus, “Dad!  It’s Asian!  You don’t call people that now!”  So parents can hold onto outdated language while their offspring move on.  Maybe my kids will yell at me one day, but for now the important thing for me is that IF anyone I’m speaking to objects I will apologise and seriously look at what I just said.  I have not yet been called out on it, and I am pretty sure it’s because black is an acceptable term.**

3) You’re getting away from the point.  Weren’t you talking about sex?

          Okay, right.  I’d like to assume anyone reading this did not need point #2, but clearly that’s not the case.  I’d also like to assume that the incident that started me writing about this would NEVER happen but I’d be wrong there, wouldn’t I?  Anyway, sex.  I have had sex with black people.  As stated above, not for fetish purposes.  Because of my non-fetish, I am not okay with someone who carelessly uses racist terms watching me do so.  Yeah, that exists, and no, I am not interested.

4)  Wow!  That’s some good unpacking!  I guess this entry is about done!

          Yeah, it is.  The way my mind works, one topic always leads to another so I could go on forever just hopping around but I do need to break this thing up into entries with labels I remember so I can go back and find stuff.  You know how the manuscript of On The Road was typed?  On a big long continuous roll of paper?  Let’s not do that.  I mean, when it was published it had to be broken into pages that would fit into a book so if I have anything else to say about this I’ll just have to wait for a future post where I can get more in-depth.



*I’m putting this note down here so I don’t interrupt the story.  It’s another disclaimer: Yes, some women enjoy stripping.  Yes, I myself have done things (for pay!) that can be counted as objectification, or potential objectification.  Yes, some of us find some activities personally freeing or empowering.  That whole discussion is one that needs to happen, and one that people have strong views on.  Point is, I’m not hating on strippers, just making an observation on the typical dynamic in our dominant culture.


** I wanted to look into the origin of “black” as a racial term at this point, but need to read up on it a bit first.  Luckily, one of the many things I want to write about is language.  If anyone can point me to a good resource that goes into when and how words came into popular usage and the sociological implications and permutations of such words, I would be grateful.


7 Responses to “Unpacking”

  1. J.Wilson Says:

    As upsetting as it is your feist makes me smile

  2. J.Wilson Says:

    And yes. Black is still acceptable. Because; we for the most part said so.

  3. J.Wilson Says:

    The fact that someone still runs around saying colored is upsetting. But yes your feist puts a smile on my face

  4. That’s why I want a good etymology reference – I could have sworn the term Black showed up sometime in the ’60’s as a self-naming to replace everything that came before, but I can’t remember where I heard that. Also I am looking for the etymology of various sexual terms since I want to write about that as well.

  5. J.Wilson Says:

    I really like the term Sapiosexual

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