By Monika MHz, PQ Monthly
Television kind of sold it to me, just as much as they sold it to us all. I was barely in double digits when I’d been initiated into the white lie — white like supremacy — that people of color are promiscuous and sexually predatory. Latin@s on the screen were lovers. Oh yeah, we were spicy, fiery, and other food words, just out there being passionate about sex and love. If you’re like me, you probably even wrote “passionate” on your OK Cupid profile. And stay on your toes white people, because we were probably seducing your partner. Be afraid.
The “Latin@ Lover” isn’t just one of those harmless positive stereotypes: they never are. It’s born of a culture where people of color are portrayed as animalistic, and less than the “civilized” [read: white] people. And a starting point from which media machismo and violence are woven into general perceptions that we’re prone to crime. The Lover contributes to the demonization, exotification, and criminalization of overt sexuality and the Latin@s who possess it on their own terms.
To me, the criminalization, fear, and disgust of sexuality in marginalized communities is a thread of control that connects us all. If you aren’t a straight white man, all overt sexuality is forbidden and often criminalized, but you are welcome, or demanded, to be recipients of that other’s sexuality as deemed permissible.
The severity, strictness, and form by which this is enforced is entirely based on the acceptability of those who express it. It’s an object/subject relationship with oppressed peoples on the losing end. Or in words I can actually understand 4 beers in, “different marginalized communities experience sexual restriction differently, but it’s still a common tool of oppression directed at (and often used by) all of us.” We are villainized because of our (the object’s) expression of unacceptable sexuality on the terms of the subject of sexuality, and objectified because that’s our “place.”
I’m sure, by now, my queer friends out there have been squeezing your thighs together, aching to tell me about your… lightbulb that just turned on, and how it relates to this.
Too bad. It’s a paper, and this isn’t really two way conversation. But gimme a call, and we can figure out what to do about those thighs.
Years ago, I observed the object/villain relationship manifest in the public and media perceptions of trans women. I never liked Julia Serano’s incomplete look at this phenomenon as “pathetic/deceiver” in her unfortunately named book “Whipping Girl” and knew there had to be a better, or at least more distilled way of talking about the way trans women exist in cultural consciousness. It goes like this: Trans women are only to be recipients of sexuality, albeit secret and shameful. Regardless of being the object of shame we’re expected to take table scraps, no matter now demeaning, disgusting, or violent they are, whilst saying, “Thank you,” for the honor of sucking their pathetic and smelly dick. And for those of us that possess our sexuality openly, we are painted as a threat, villain, violator, criminal, or rapist.
Sound familiar to anyone? It should, because this is one of the core methods of control utilized by society. Control the clit, control the clique. Control the dick, control the politic.
File this in: Why I have become more open, in recent years, about being a human being who enjoys sex — I know. Wild, right? Including my start as PQ’s new sex columnist: Which is a whole lot like me at 19, shorter, less feminist theory, and a nicer ass. [Insert plug here.]
The near universal perceptions even among the queers is that trans women as a class are a stuffy mood killing curiosity devoid of independent sexuality, and those who express one are often characterized as threatening. Object/Villain. For those of us who try to live queer we often see our sexuality described as devoid of queer context/value. If a trans woman fucking a man is straight and so is fucking a woman, we’ve have been written out of our queer story before it even started.
I believe it’s a story we should be a part of and to get there we’ve gotta resist this thread of sexual restriction. I reject the idea that I am not allowed to have a sexuality. I reject that I’m some sort of anti-queer, or anti-sex being. As a result, for my 15th “coming out” in my life. I’m a skilled/dexterous pianist and DJ who likes nice arms and butts. I’ve got a pension for screaming, gyrating, and pillow biting, [available tuesdays, llllaaadies] and sex is pretty damn great.
Until the only thing we can think to call a woman with a penis is back for a second date — am I right!? — it’s a good bet I’ll be stuck talking about fucking and being fucked for a fucking while. [sarcasm alert] Oh no.
Monika MHz is a queer trans Latina who makes her way as a Portland-based House music producer/DJ, activist, and writer. Practicing radical love through music, she believes in the transformative nature of music and its real substantive and cultural power to save lives. You can find Monika online at monikamhz.com and @MonikaMHz.