The AFAB, QTBIPOC Artist as an Object: Commodified

by Ami (@HotWraithBones)
CW: Mature Content (18+)

My writing and art are worth less than my boobs. That’s a fact I’m quickly learning as I progress in my attempt at a creative career. Where brown skin is involved on the part of the creator, labor can only operate in a single direction: from the brown person to the Western audience. Subconsciously and inherently, people are taught that we are not worth the mutual channeling of worth or labor. My work is not worth the money without easily consumable, sexual, objectual incentive: ergo, my boobs. And even then, getting financial support for my art from a Western audience feels like a reach.

As a brown, non-binary, AFAB person whose presentation essentially encapsulates that of the MySpace himbo femboy and many-time sexual assault survivor, the reality that my livelihood as a creative person more or less relies on how much sex I am willing to exude to a potential audience is riddled with challenges, dysmorphia, and general inner-turmoil. Worse yet is my knowledge of the fact that even if I whip out my pussy and make it exceedingly wet for any potential readership, I will still likely be consumed and exploited for free, or else for scraps (only if I’m lucky). And in this, I either risk building a loyal audience of people who are willing to take a chance on the actual labor I gear toward creative pursuits – my writing and my art (AKA the loves of my life) – or alienating them from considering me as an intellectual possibility forevermore. The irony in this is the fact that almost all of my writing and art are – often unintentionally – about autonomy, or more accurately, the utter lack of it. 

I’ve studied the juxtaposition of subjecthood and objecthood at length. I spent the entire second year of my M.F.A. program working with the transformations of object to subject in media such as Detroit: Become Human, the equivalent regarding subject to object in sex and pornography texts such as Helen and Desire and The Story of O, and even in corporeal, non-corporeal, and hybrid examinations of my own life and obsession with every potential aspect of wraithood: moreover, the self as a wraith. As my M.F.A. thesis was a book exploring the complexities of the suffering self, I often joke that “I quite literally wrote the book on suffering.” Sadly, it’s a gimmick lost on all but those familiar with my work.

From experience, I know first-hand what it means to have your humanity violated, diminished, and chipped-away through multiple, never-ending instances of physical, emotional, mental, and sexual abuse, assault, and violence. This is furthered still by the constant objectifications and fetishizations that have shaped my adulthood in contrast to a childhood of being regarded as hideous, grotesque, repulsive filth unworthy of humanity or compassion by my peers. They were always tremendously better at being “normal” and “ideal” than me, despite my best [and truly grueling efforts] not to stand out among them. And they never let me forget it. Due to my familiarity with that treatment, Iife makes the most sense when I am consensually being objectified, beaten, violated, used, and abused. 

In Kathy Acker, I feel understood. In Khadijah Queen, I find the person I can only dream of someday becoming. In Britney Spears, I find a level of kinship and love that has existed for almost the entirety of my life as a mid-90s millennial. 

All that brings us back to the topic of this essay: the fact that in this world, my writing and art are, and will likely always be worth less than, my average-sized boobs. My boobs, my ass, my lips, my hips, my thighs, my hair, and my curves – anything that can be objectified, sexualized, fetishized, and/or used for selfish gain in white, cis, hetero, ableist, patriarchal society. Moreover, and without a doubt, if I was white, or even just held a handful of more Eurocentric features in my arsenal, this would not be the case – at least not to this extreme.

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