I’ve been reading these recent conversations about “the privilege of being desired” bop around Tumblr these past few days. The conversation was a bit hard to follow because it was happening in all different directions (which is simultaneously really cool and hard to navigate). It made me think a lot about how normative ideas about beauty and desire trickle down into radical spaces. I am queer, trans, white and fat and I find that even in the political spaces and ‘communities’ that surround my life there is a definite erasure and rejection of disabled bodies, fat bodies, non-white bodies and a pretty intense privileging of masculinities - just to scrape the surface.
The thing we need to remember here is that both “beauty” and “desire” are loaded guns. For those of us who live our lives on the colonized lands of North America, we learn much of what we know about beauty and desire from mainstream media. The media sends us messages that tell us all about what bodies are desirable and socially acceptable, how we should love and fuck each other and how we should appropriately perform our masculinity or femininity. People, bodies and practices that fall outside of these norms are marginalized, made invisible and ridiculed.
The politics of desire are failing us because they have been colonized, and are channeled into capitalist practices of consumption. Media promotes normative ideas about beauty and desire to sell us products that keep the capitalist system intact. Fat bodies, disabled bodies and racialized bodies do not sell products as effectively as white, skinny and seemingly stable bodies and therefore those bodies often fall outside of normative visual economies of desire and beauty. Yeah that’s right, this shit is being sold to us.
Mainstream discourses on desire exist at all levels of society and are deeply embedded in consumerism, racism and sexism (or capitalism, white supremacy & patriarchy). We learn about beauty and desire at school and in the media (television/internet/advertisements on the street) and we internalize those values. Sometimes we (or our friends and family) regurgitate these norms to hurt or have power over people and sometimes we create new norms or find that our desires don’t match up the way they are supposed to. Mass media shapes our lived experience and understanding of the world in deep and complicated ways. I can definitely say that I have been thoroughly infused with the values of capitalism, patriarchy and white supremacy and my queer politics are about always resisting that, and making room for all bodies. Because I am queer, norms about beauty and desire play out in my life and politics in different ways than they might for a straight white (cis) dude, but these normative values permeate the best of minds, and none of us are unscathed - not even you!
Norms of beauty and desire are reformulated and reproduced in radical spaces. No matter what we do, commodified and colonized ideas about beauty and desire permeate everything and even follow us into our cherished radical communities (be them geographical or digital like tumblr). The key here for me is to think critically about how these processes occur. One of the most important things anyone has ever told me was that “dominance and power function by remaining invisible”. Our ability to think critically about the forces that shape our lives and to then speak out and imagine against them are vital to transforming pervasive and damaging notions of beauty and desirability that are clearly hurting ignore so many of us.
We need to be accountable for the ways that we consume beauty and understand desire. We create counter-norms about beauty and desire in the body positive and queer spaces here on Tumblr. Still, these spaces exclude many voices, bodies, aesthetics and often reinforce the norm. These digital spaces create a visual environment that leaves so many experiences and bodies out of the equation. I do not know how we can combat this, but I hope that we continue to think critically and have non-linear conversations with ourselves and each other about beauty and desire. If we start talking about this maybe we can start to disentangle desire from the cold, dead hands of white supremacy, capitalism and patriarchy and reconfigure it in ways that create room for more bodies to be adored and appreciated on their own terms and in ways that feel affirming.
I want to leave you with seriously fucking relevant quote that sets my heart on fire:
“As the (generational) effects of global capitalism, genocide, violence, oppression and trauma settle into our bodies, we must build new understandings of bodies and gender that can reflect our histories and our resiliency, not our oppressor or our self-shame and loathing. We must shift from a politic of desirability and beauty to a politic of ugly and magnificence. That moves us closer to bodies and movements that disrupt, dismantle, disturb. Bodies and movements ready to throw down and create a different way for all of us, not just some of us” - Mia Mingus (Moving Toward the Ugly: A Politic Beyond Desirability)
Desire and beauty have failed me and cannot accurately capture how or who I fuck, how or who I desire or how I want to be desired. If you need me, I’ll be exploding desire in the revolutionary possibilities of ugly.
- nericay reblogged this from femmecentric
- annethryn reblogged this from femmecentric
- midnightcode reblogged this from heavymuffintop
- ladyhsj reblogged this from randomdeejay
- randomdeejay reblogged this from glitterpolitic
- emaciatedspaceman reblogged this from heavymuffintop
- emaciatedspaceman likes this
- laclaridad likes this
- femmecentric reblogged this from glitterpolitic and added:
- queerofblades reblogged this from glitterpolitic
- monozygote reblogged this from glitterpolitic and added:
- thecallofthewild reblogged this from glitterpolitic and added:
- blackcomedies likes this
- pussykatya likes this
- organization likes this
- autumnthenwinter likes this
- bonbonfleurbleue likes this
- candymafiabitch likes this
- weirdoqueer likes this
- littlearchitect likes this
- newton-pulsifer likes this
- tastygravy likes this
- tessaracked reblogged this from glitterfarm
- eiridescent reblogged this from bblackenedbutterfly
- tal9000 likes this
- ideas-anatomicas likes this
- mappingthemoon likes this
- brucebananeronawillgrahamcracker reblogged this from thechocolatebrigade
- ducosatesodium reblogged this from heavymuffintop
- giraffesareinsincere likes this
- digitalmeowmix likes this
- bossestbitch reblogged this from thechocolatebrigade
- tout--ou--rien reblogged this from thechocolatebrigade
- blosso-ms likes this
- allie-kathleen reblogged this from thechocolatebrigade
- allie-kathleen likes this
- tuesday-johnson likes this
- thechocolatebrigade reblogged this from heavymuffintop
- amirrorforone reblogged this from heavymuffintop
- wordsonnapkins reblogged this from heavymuffintop
- wine-loving-vagabond likes this
- honeygutsmcgee likes this
- tea-rannosaurous likes this
- rgr-pop likes this
- ttrove reblogged this from abyssopelmagic
- questionsandawe reblogged this from heavymuffintop
- sunshinebutterflies reblogged this from heavymuffintop
- rainbowzombie13 likes this
- miss-anne-dree reblogged this from heavymuffintop