fuck NO, pan problems!

[CONTENT WARNING: cissexism, rape, violence]

i found this graphic on tumblr and i want to talk about it.  i get that the op was probably trying to be positive, but i have a few issues with this pic.  i shall now present them to you in no particular order because ranking shit is too hard for my brain.

1. the word “love”  –  we’re talking about (sexual/romantic) attraction here, not just love.  in this case, i think “love” comes off as a euphemism for “some combination of attraction, sex, love, and/or affection.”  personally, i think euphemisms are half-assed and useless unless you’re trying to avoid triggers (avoiding triggers = awesome).

(i don’t think “attraction” is generally a triggering word, but please lemme know if i’m just eating my foot, here.  cuz i’m good at changing my ways.)

2. the word “shouldn’t”  –  seriously, i know this is just a little graphic and it’s probably supposed to be cute and/or inspirational, but don’t tell me what my “love” should or should not be based on.  unless i’m fetishizing a group of people and/or behaving in a problematic way, you don’t get to do that.

like, is it ok if i’m only attracted to people who think consent is sexy?  “should” i “love” anti-consent people cuz the “love” police say so?  didn’t think so.  i think “shouldn’t” is kinda a shitty word to use in a graphic like this.

3. “…something as trivial as gender” – gender isn’t trivial.  people are marginalized based on gender. people are killed based on gender.  people are raped based on gender.  people are basically shat on based on gender.  that shit isn’t trivial.  you can’t say gender is trivial unless you’re ignoring the dynamics of gender-based privilege and oppression.

i’d also like to point out that as a trans* person, my gender is pretty fucking important to me in ways cis people often take for granted.  here’s an excerpt from a post i wrote about genderblindness recently:

i fight every day to take up space as a person of my gender.  i come out to strangers on the fly CONSTANTLY (cuz it’s in my self-respect policy).  i end up holding in my piss for hours cuz i can’t find a non-gendered bathroom.  i have to avoid restaurants without non-gendered bathrooms.  i have to avoid clothing stores without non-gendered change rooms.  strangers feel entitled to tell me i’m gross when i come out as trans*.  i have to lie to the government on official forms, and my partner and i are estranged from his side of the family– so i reallyreally hope you aren’t telling me you think my gender is unimportant.  read more.

and that’s just me.  other trans* folks, especially dmab trans* poc, live in fear of serious violence and murder.  this is serious shit.

4.  the notion that pansexuals don’t experience attraction based on gender – maybe YOU don’t experience attraction based on gender, but i do and so do some other pan people.  sometimes gender is a factor in pansexuality and sometimes it isn’t.  there are a shit-ton of ways to experience pansexuality.  start respecting the diversity, please.  thanks.

*   *   *
i guess i wanted to write about this graphic because it’s more than just a silly picture on tumblr.  to me, it represents attitudes common among internet pansexuals.  these are serious problems and i think we need to talk about them.


20 responses to “fuck NO, pan problems!

  1. Thank you. My son identifies as pansexual, which is a term i’m not sure i’d ever heard of before this year. This post is really helpful. I learn a lot from you! So, again, thank you.

  2. aw, thanks for the sweet words. i’m glad my post helped you out; that’s just awesome. <3

    i hope you're doing splendidly, cat.

  3. I have nothing to add to this, but just wanted to say I agree!

  4. yay! i’m glad to hear it, cat. thanks!

  5. I’m in agreement with you. I’ve seen variations on this statement and I’ve always thought they’re really glib. I’m pan/bi and I have preferences too, so gender sure isn’t trivial to me. Even for those who are equally attracted to all genders, there may be things that are especially attractive in one gender and other things that are a turn-on in another gender; again, not exactly trivial.

    And even if gender really is trivial to you, are you going to say that every other consideration other than personality/character is trivial too? Gender expression, attractiveness, quirks, etc. Some are social prejudices, which should be avoided, but others are a personal preference. I don’t think that’s different from gravitating toward a particular gender.

  6. I’m pan (but I prefer queer) & I completely agree with you. I’m mainly attracted to the spectrum of masculinity ranging from butch big, bad daddy dyke types to cis/trans bears, mmm bears. Occasionally, another full figured femme (like myself) is thrown into the mix. I may not be selecting partners solely by their genital configuration but I’m certainly basing their selection on my attractions & desires.

  7. Mx. Punk, you are pointing out a quite intriguing phenomenon here. That is the tendency of people to attempt to simplify complex subjects as memes (unlike Meems, above, though pronounced similar on reading). I see shit tonnes of memes online, and you are right to challenge them, as should all of us be challenging misleading memes, like this one. The problem with memes is this… They are great for those who have personal, and intimate knowledge of the subject for which the meme implies, and horribly misleading often for those for which it is not well understood. Furthermore, it is impossible to summarize such a complicated subject with such a meme, period. However, though this could be somewhat understood by those with intimate knowledge of this specific persons experience of “pansexual” (the one who created the meme), however it has other reasons to get called out. Specifically, this could be seen as, and used to marginalize monosexuals, and other ways people experience sexual orientation. As a lesbian, though I feel somewhat panromantic, I find this meme a little offensive. I am attracted only to women. My sexual orientation is of little control to me, and there is a little bit of “choice assertion” in the connotations of this meme. A sort of “Pansexual superiority” in a manner of speaking. That is incredibly triggering, and unnerving to a lot of people. That statement could even devolve to being called a “bigot” for being a lesbian, heterosexual, et cetera. You should call this one. And again, you are right, I know my gender is pretty goddamned important to me, and I know you have said the same thing on many occasions. So, good call. But there are so many memes out there that are misleading, even outright wrong. I think far to often people take these memes as true without challenging them, and it’s important that you are doing this. Keep it up.

    *** With cat ears and a tail on she pulls out a blender, throws in some ice, strawberries, and yogurt and blends. She then pours the concoction and drinks. With a smile she turns invisible only her teeth visible and vanishes into the distance like the Cheshire cat.***

  8. yep, it definitely sucks when cats get all self-righteous about being pan. like, really? while i don’t think it marginalizes monosexuals (you can’t marginalize monosexuals in the same way you can’t marginalize white people, imo), it’s just rude and fucking ridiculous to get all high on yourself over your sexual orientation.

    it’s weird how this shit gets passed around so much without being critiqued.

    and reneta, i can’t top your exit. i am in deep awe! <3333333 yay for strawberries!

  9. I refer to exclusively hetero and homosexual people as monosexual, but perhaps exclusively homosexual is the operative word I should have used. And you are right that “heterosexual people can’t be marginalized” by that. Homosexual people certainly can though. That was mainly what I was referring too. By questioning the junk that floats around in our culture you are, in some way, enacting a form of skepticism, which I feel is healthy. I feel healthy skepticism is a good check and balance against being tricked, or being gullible to stupid cultural mentalities. Being an atheist and a skeptic, I would of course give high praise for such inquiries as what you made. I also encourage it in the future, as well as encourage all people reading this to do so, and do it in a much broader way. This isn’t the first false meme on the internet, and I am sure it’s not the only, nor the last. I am glad you enjoyed my exit though.

    On a side note: Reneta is working on a shake that will when you drink it make you invisible, or just make random cool exits as I have previously alliterated.

  10. i still don’t think ANY monosexual people (straight, gay, whatevs) can be marginalized by multisexual people based on their monosexuality. as far as i can tell, there are no narratives that privilege multisexual people over monosexual people. considering that pansexuality isn’t even widely recognized as a thing (in north america), i think it’d be hard for pansexuals to actually marginalize homosexual people (or any monosexual people). i might be missing something, though.

    that said, the holier-than-thou pan folks piss me the fuck off. they don’t make any sense and they’re fucking rude. and annoying. bleh.

    yay for magic shakes!!!! i’m going to figure out how to make a banana-cocoa shake that’ll make me invulnerable to colds! (cuz i usually get a cold in november and stay sick til may or june.) yay!

  11. hi, harrow! hi, meems! thanks for sharing your brains with us! it’s good to know that i’m not the only one who has had enough of this self-righteous-pan shit.

    i just decided that “going pan-shit righteous” is a thing. when pan folks are getting all self-righteous about being pan, we can be like, “whoa, down! don’t get all pan-shit righteous on me, cat!” and it’ll be awesome. i think.

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  13. Pingback: stuff pansexuals need to know | rainbowgenderpunk

  14. So I’ve spent the last 25 minutes reading articles here (almost all of them linked from the “things pansexuals need to know” post) and I’m learning a lot. I self-identify as pansexual, the word just felt right when I heard it. But I’m still learning, and I can’t thank you enough for helping me with that. Non-binary gender still kind of escapes my understanding, though I am trying to learn. Being a cis woman, I really have no way of empathizing with that experience. But I was raised by parents who told me that everyone is valid, and their feelings, whether they make sense to me or not, are valid, and that the way they see/feel/experience things is no less true to them than my experience is to me. (For a hard core Christian family with a fairly close-minded background, I think they did fairly well.)

    I know I’m rambling now, because it’s after midnight and I worked ten hours, but I thought I should say my piece, and thank you for teaching those willing to learn.

  15. Oh my gosh thank you for saying something about this people need to know more about pansexuals and I really enjoy how informative your posts are. I’ve been trying to come out for a few years to my parents and I can’t really find the right words to say to them and these are really helping me collect my thoughts on the matter. Thank you so much for your lovely posts!

  16. I really love this post, I felt the “gender blind” was really, well concerning. When I explained pansexuality to someone and said “I have the ability to be attracted to someone regardless of what gender they identified as”. Them being a more so open person but not fully educated said “I was gender blind” when I said no I am not, just because I have the potential to love all types of people, does not mean I become totally blind to who they identify as, If they say they are a man they are a man, if they are gender fluid, they are gender fluid, if they don’t say because labels suck to them and want to be whoever they are, they are exactly who they feel they are. (if I get accused of not being Pansexual for this, i really just want to punch them in the face because i feel like I am one, it describes how I feel and i identify with it, I fricken am one) Anyways creeping this whole blog now it is truely brilliant.

  17. Also the last point with Pansexuality’s can be attracted based off gender, cause honestly I am, I just feel I have the potential to be attracted to all genders.

  18. this is fucking rad; “just because I have the potential to love all types of people, does not mean I become totally blind to who they identify as, If they say they are a man they are a man, if they are gender fluid, they are gender fluid, if they don’t say because labels suck to them and want to be whoever they are, they are exactly who they feel they are.” yes!!!

    i’m loving your input!

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  20. Hi! my name is Sebastián and i’m a theorist and activist of the Pansexuality. I would like to thank u for these contributions you’ve made. I agree with you and i’ve never thought nor felt nor lived my pansexuality under the slogan: “Because love shouldn’t be based in something as trivial as gender”. Despite the conception of “love” -a more Panromantic issue- the pansexuality -well known by its flag- is about attraction to and self-knwolege of our feminine, masculine and non-binary. The missconception of the phrase reflects that our theory is still linked to old conceptions as the theory from Peter Boom -more an epigone of “Pan-Romanticism”.
    Hugs from South-America. Sebas

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