What we need more of…

…is BDSM.

Hear me out. There’s a fantastic post over at Yes Means Yes! about the safe call. A safe call, in essence, is a pre-scheduled check in with a friend that BDSMers arrange when they’re going to meet someone. While stereotype dictates that BDSMers are up for anything and there’s nothing they won’t do, it turns out they’re a normal bunch–they too have lines, and People With Less Than Honorable Intentions lurk amongst them. So, when you’re going into a situation where you are going to be agreeing to things that have the potential to be Not Okay, it’s important to look out for your safety.

Slight tangent: basically everyone is familiar with the concept of the safe word these days, another safety precaution put in place by the BDSM community. Since BDSM relies very heavily on trust, making sure that participants feel safe is essential. Therefore, the safe word.

And, tangentially, the safe call. You’re putting a lot of faith in a stranger or casual acquaintance when you agree to engage in BDSM play with them–however, is it any less scary to engage in casual sex with a stranger of acquaintance? Rape is rape whether you’re tied up or not. Rapists can hide out in any community–the trappings of BDSM are not required to get into a circumstance where a rapist can easily find a target.

However, BDSMers are used to putting in safety precautions, such as the safe word (also, have you ever seen actual BDSM gear? I’m not talking Cosmo-said-it’d-be-hot-to-tie-up-my-man-so-I-bound-his-wrists-with-his-tie, I’m talking the stuff that people buy specifically for this purpose. It’s all designed with safety and preventing harm in mind. There’s quick releases, there’s padding, there’s material with give and breathability, hell, there’s candles with wax that won’t actually burn your skin. Sex is a sport, so always use proper safety equipment!). The safe call is a natural offshoot of that. I’ve fielded safe calls for friends, and I think they’re great.

As is covered in the linked post, this isn’t about making a person responsible for not being raped. It’s about giving the rapist a more hostile environment. It’s empowering, because it means that we can go out and have our hookups, regardless of how vanilla or kinky they may be, and we can know that we’re looking after ourselves, our friends can know that we’re safe (because believe it or not, we friends worry about you friends when you’re out!), and we can both know that if something DOES go wrong, we’ve got someone to fall back on and we can try to get the rapist caught.

I don’t think a safe call will necessarily STOP a rape. I don’t think it should ever enter into a rape trial that by NOT making a safe call, a victim had become responsible. That’s not the case at all. I think of a safe call as using a condom or setting a designated driver–have your fun, but make sure you do it safely! That’s all.

And, to be honest, I think almost all relationships should have a safe word (as well as a “go” word or signal–one of my friends had a necklace that she would put on whenever she wanted to hint to her boyfriend that she wanted to get busy. I think there’s something really sexy about that. The spontaneous jumping-your-bones is fun, too, but sex can be so much more than that!). The thing with a safe word is that you’ve agreed that it is an absolute.

There was a debate on a women’s health forum recently where a girl was repeatedly flicking/smacking her boyfriend’s face. He kept saying “stop that” and “if you do that one more time…” and finally after her doing it about ten times, he smacked her back and she got really upset. There was a strong division in the response. Some people were ready to pull out the axes and go after his head. Others took his side–she was all “I was just teasing him!” while commenters (myself included) said “So what? He was telling you to stop and you didn’t. While responding with a smack is not the best response, it was a visceral reaction of frustration that you wouldn’t listen to him.” And she insisted that when he was saying no, it was joking.

Sometimes, you need to make it clear to your significant other how you feel. Even if it’s just that they’re doing something that they think is cutesy flirtation (and I personally don’t think that there’s anything cutesy and flirtatious about hitting someone you love, regardless of the gender), if you want your partner to stop, they need to know your serious. Hence, safe word. Is it weird to pull that out in random situations? Maybe at first. But isn’t it kind of weird to exclaim, “PLATYPUS!” during sex? Well, yeah. But that’s the point–it’s out of context. It grabs attention. You stop. You consider what’s going on. You ask your partner what’s going on, and the two of you solve the problem at hand.

Because we do teasing things, and our culture is full of situations that can get messed up in translation. Friends flirt, and sometimes that leaves partners feel uncomfortable. What we think is harmless teasing can actually hurt. What starts out as “oh god I’ve had such a long day let me rant for a second” can turn into too much yelling. What we think is sexy nails-down-the-back might actually be drawing blood that wasn’t supposed to be drawn. Regardless of the context, sometimes we need to have a “hold up!” button to push.

For some of my friends, that “hold up!” button comes in the form of calling me. The good news is that no one has ever needed it, but it makes me feel good to know it’s there, and I hope it makes them feel good too.

Anyways, because I like to end Fridays on a good note, here’s a couple other things:

God I wish Sassy still existed. I don’t care if I’m too old for it. Which reminds me, I should really get around to reinstating my subscription to Bitch.

Speaking of Sassy, check out Thurston Moore’s dating advice to teenage girls. Punk rock boys, you make the rockin’ world go round.

And finally, lest we forget what is TRULY dangerous in this world, here is a reminder: it’s farting. “Listen sweetie, if you can’t control your ass, we’re going to have to get a divorce.” Aahh, if I had a dollar for every time I said that…

Tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day! Get a comic book. Love it, squeeze it, call it George. And make sure you get your comics from one of them rockin’ locally owned places!

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04/30/2010. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

What I’ve Been Reading, Drowning Under Finals Edition

Well, sort of. It’s finals season over here in van der Cake Topia. I’ve been working fiendishly, and things are starting to blur together–“A lesson plan on a national quantitative research study of exactly how big of an asshole Ernest Hemingway really was.” Shit, man, I’d teach that class.

Aaaanyways, unsurprisingly, there has not be a great deal of Profound Thought going on. I did dig out my course reader from the Violence in American Culture class I took in undergrad (best. class. ever.) and use some of the articles for my research proposal. Citing some familiar names, I remembered how much I love some of those articles, so I might see if I can find PDFs of them on JSTOR or some such and talk about them on here at some point in the future.

For now, though, I just ate a bagel and some soup and I’m drinking and a coffee and holy shit, guys, I can almost feel the tips of my fingers again. It’s amazing. I might actually make it out of this semester alive, and without failing. We’ll see!

So here’s some stuff that I think is worth giving a look to:

Glamour is still full of a whole bunch of idiocy. Or maybe its readers are, it’s hard to say. Did the Glamour staff actually think that it was news that men like blowjobs? Or do they just think their readers will be astonished by this? Also, when your breath is taken away by that astonishing revelation, don’t bother getting it back again. No breath tastes as good as thin feels.

Also on the astonishing front, it turns out that movies are not necessarily accurate depictions of reality! On the plus side, it sounds like Molly Ringwald is a really savvy, down-to-earth kind of person. When it comes to talking about sex with her kids, she’s pro-communication. Now there is a novel idea I’d like to see more of.

Apparently people still use the word “hunks,” but I wish they wouldn’t. It’s how my dad refers to pieces of steak he is grilling. And while I do sometimes look at attractive men and immediately picture a slab of raw meat, I’m trying to break that habit, because I just end up hungry. Also, I don’t have sex with meat but I do have sex with men, and I don’t want to one day sit down to dinner and accidentally fuck the steak and eat my date. Besides, I don’t buy hot dogs, I buy Tofurkey veggie dogs, which I guess leaves me as some weird sexually confused person that no one wants to invite to parties lest I start humping the houseplants. …RIGHT, NAKED DUDES. So, I like seeing that there’s still a push for naked dudes for the ogling out there because I love to ogle naked dudes but there’s also this thing about like gender equality or something like that. But man, I’d love to ogle me some naked skinny geeky guy with glasses who is kind of shy about looking at the camera so he is looking at the TV and holding an xbox controller instead or maybe looking at a book, and, uh… *gulp* I’ll be right back.

AND WE’RE BACK. And speaking of my over-active boner for nerdy intellectuals, how’s about them fetishes? I honestly don’t have a whole lot to add to that post except that I love it. I think some of my preferences in bed I’ve just always had, and others have come about as responses to things. My tastes have certainly changed (an ex once wanted to try a fairly simple thing in bed, so I said yes, and then I hated it so much that I cried afterward. These days, I think it’s incredibly sexy. And no, it’s not anal, though I think in my head I had formerly politicized it in the same way I politicize anal now). The cool thing about human sexuality is how fluid and varied it is. The problem is that since it involves another person, there’s a lot of room for misunderstanding and vulnerability. People judge. I’ve had people tell me that I’m less of a feminist because of what I like in bed. Uh, folks? I can do both. My sexuality is not destiny or fate or whatever–it’s something I’ve come to over time, through experiences, including feminism. You don’t have to agree with what I like or want to partake of it, but man… People love judging sexuality. Stop it.

Man I would so love to get a PhD. Too bad I’d be totally fucking myself over if I did. Damn you, reality! *fist shake*

04/28/2010. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

There is so much stuff on the internet!

It’s been quite a week. There was a holiday (I spent it mostly in bed), there was a busy day at work, and then there was a day where the network was down basically all day. Now we’re here. To say that I’ve missed a lot in my Google reader would be a huge understatement. To say that there’s a lot that I want to blog about, but really don’t have the time or energy right now would also be a huge understatement. So here’s some stuff that I think merits looking at:

It was Secretary’s Day. (no, I don’t give a fuck about being PC. “Administrative professionals,” my ass!) SocImages has a great write-up on why this is basically bullshit. Pro-tip: you know what us secretaries like better than flowers once a year and being told how very special and important and valuable we are? A living wage. Yeah. Hallmark cards don’t make up for that, guys.

BikeSnob (one of my newest internet crushes) talks about sharing the road and the Cyclist Essentialist Conundrum: in short, check it out! There’s a bunch of us out there that ride bikes as our primary method of transportation (or even just as a hobby sometimes). We also do lots of other things. Some of these things might include owning a car. Let’s stop essentializing cyclists. Just because you have a 4,000 lb 800hp Death Ramming Machine doesn’t mean you’re always right. Just because we are riding bikes which means we are sexy (or maybe just an obnoxious hipster) doesn’t mean we’re always right. But dang guys, your cars are really big and hurt a lot, so could you like dial back the rage for just a second?

I totally missed Equal Pay Day, which is funny, because I was mostly worrying about how I’m ever going to continue supporting myself and paying my bills. Man, if we could close the pay gap, I’d be able to cover the difference between my annual grad school tuition and my scholarship.

Dating is still totally weird. Although reading this brief sampling from a pick-up artist message board totally clarifies for me what the crap has been going on in the past when I’ve tried to NOT date. Pro-tip: when I tell you to fuck off and die in a fire, I’m not playing hard to get.

Don’t get me wrong, I do a killer When Harry Met Sally-style fake orgasm (I really, really like sushi), but I’ve only ever faked when the spark was going out of the relationship and I was just not interested in working at it anymore. I guess this just goes to show that I am not a caring girlfriend. Thanks, science! I always knew I was a jerk, but it’s nice to have your backing.

Speaking of sex, MY VAGINA IS TIGHT ENOUGH ALREADY, GODDAMMIT. I mean, if I could get my hair elastics to do Kegels so that I wouldn’t have to keep buying new elastics cause the old ones are all stretched out, you guys, I would so do it. I hate it when my elastics get all stretched out. But my vagina… she is not a hair scrunchy. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: these products are WEIRD.

Anyways, it’s the end of the semester, so I’ve been working my ass off on school work. I’ve written a doozy of a lesson plan (I think) for Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, which includes one of my favorite accidental feminist heroines, Lady Brett Ashley. We’ll see if I write about that or not. I’m writing a research proposal on utilizing creative writing in high school classrooms, and I may or may not talk about that. I might talk about biking. I might talk about sex.

You know what is so exciting about reading my blog, you guys? YOU NEVER KNOW. I might just post a recipe for brownies. Excitement and living on the edge, that is what I like to provide to you.

04/22/2010. Tags: , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

What’s in a name?

After all, a feminist by any other name would smell as sweet.

So yesterday on Jezebel, they brought up the issue of taking your husband’s name when marrying, particularly as regards to the impact it may have on your salary.

This has long been a loaded issue.

First off, there’s the issue that getting married can have any number of implications on a woman’s life–it’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t type of situation. If you DO get married, it’s generally assumed that you’ll get pregnant and leave the workforce, so why bother promoting? If you DON’T get married, you’re assumed to be frigid or defective. That’s the short version; I think most of us are familiar with the long version, so we’ll settle for that recap.

So there’s already the social issues with getting married. Then there’s the whole feminist bit, where, when you get right down to it, marriage is patriarchal and implies a sense of ownership over a woman, there’s the religious history, and of course there’s the current issue of marriage equality.

But set all this baggage aside. Say you’ve decided you’re getting married. Now there’s the conundrum of what to do with your name. On the one hand, if you take your new husband’s name, that’s ceding the patriarchal establishment of him owning you, you becoming part of his family, etc. On the other hand, the last name you have is probably your father’s last name, so it’s not like that’s any less patriarchal. Are we really winning any victories by keeping one man’s last name over another? If your parents were modern and hyphenated, that’s cool. So do you hyphenate too, thus ending up with a triple hyphenated last name? What if you end up with kids, so they end up with a super-duper-hyphentastic last name?

I’m not passing judgment on any of these options. I do not hold any one as the best choice. I also think it’s absolutely imperative that each person decide for themselves–some women are eager to shed their history and start fresh with their husband’s last name. Some are deeply attached to their last names and will not give them up for anything. Some just want to go with the flow and change their name. No choice holds more value than any of the others. It’s what works for you (and your husband) and makes you happy.

But me? I don’t know that I’m anywhere near getting married. I don’t know if I’ll EVER get married. But both of my parents are deeply important to me–I can talk to either one of them about anything, and I’ve had a close relationship with both of them for a long, long time (if admittedly tumultuous at times). I love them both very much, and I consider myself a child of both of them, and they are both so important to who I am today.

When my parents divorced, my mother took her mother’s maiden name, because that’s who she felt most identified with. I don’t want to hyphenate my name, because god knows we already have a troublesome enough last name as it is. So, I’ve been thinking about doing what my aunt and uncle did–taking a syllable from each last name and combining it into one.

My sister took her husband’s last name when she married, which means that I’m not alienating myself from her by changing my last name, which is the only thing that would’ve given me pause. By combining the last names of my parents, I’m giving a nod to both of them. Right now, I feel uncomfortable in my last name because it doesn’t represent both of my parents–it’s only 50% of who I am.

I guess this whole self-absorbed musing on my last name was my way of coming around to say that as I grow up, I’m understanding these little feminist decisions we have to deal with. To some women, giving up their last name when they marry is huge–it’s surrendering who they are, where they come from. Since I don’t have a strong cultural history attached to my name, or even a strong sense of family history beyond my grandparents, I don’t have the same kind of investment in my name. In a way, taking someone else’s name would ease my burden over feeling like I’m only partially representing who and what I am with my name. If I shared something of both of my parents in my name, I think the idea of giving that up upon marriage would be very different.

It’s funny–I am nowhere near marriage (hell, I haven’t even had a relationship since 2008, and I haven’t had one for more than six weeks since 2007. I think I’m actually veering FURTHER from marriage the later in life I get), yet it seems like it keeps coming up as an issue that I think about in a social analysis context constantly. Maybe it’s because three of my friends have gotten engaged in the last two weeks (seriously guys, stop it. You’re freaking me out), or maybe it’s just because marriage has become so deeply politicized. It’s hard to not keep coming back to something that managed to get so soured by some cultural wrong turns.

Regardless, it’s gratifying for me to feel like I can truly understand what might motivate people to make decisions that they make, such as keeping their last name. I’ve always grasped the concept, but it wasn’t until I started, in my mind, thinking of myself by the last name I’ve made out of my parents’ combined names, that my name really began to matter to me. And now I get it.

That’s the cool thing about this whole feminism thing, and this whole growing up business–my world just keeps getting bigger, and the things I understand just keep blossoming. Of course, with each new discovery, I can see exponentially more waiting just around the next corner. It’s kind of exciting.

Happy weekend, everyone!

04/16/2010. Tags: , . Uncategorized. 2 comments.

On Why I Will Never Be A Great Feminist

I think I’m a pretty decent feminist. I change my own oil, can change a tire on the side of the highway, balance my checkbook, pay for my own dinner, do my best not to be a doormat for the men that I date, etc. However, I don’t see myself ever being a truly great feminist. Cuppy van der Cake will never be a household name, nor will I ever become part of the great feminist literary canon.

I’m too goddamn nice.

Seriously–I’ve got a pretty good backbone going on, I certainly don’t think of myself as the kind of girl you can walk all over and most everyone I know has at some point remarked on how they think of me as an exceptionally strong person. So I’m not worried about being a pushover. But I DO just want people to get along, and I believe very much in approaching issues from all sides and trying to share perspectives.

I got into a big fight with my ex-boyfriend once because he was in a fit of borderline violent road rage and I tried to explain what might have happened with the other driver and why it was all just a big misunderstanding and he shouldn’t be so angry about it. He did not like me empathizing with the other driver.

This kind of thing comes up in my life ALL THE TIME. I am constantly sticking up for strangers that I’ll probably never even meet because I hate listening to people get all worked up and spitting mad, assigning attributes to random people just because they don’t agree with them. Hell, I even empathize at times with Republicans and the religious right (I have nothing against the religious right as long as they don’t want to control how I live my life. If they find happiness and guidance in their religion, well that’s just super for them! It doesn’t work for me. But every time I see someone speak poorly of someone else strictly because of their religious or political ideology, when those things are not relevant to the issue at hand, I get really upset).

I don’t want to make myself out to be some great sympathetic morally wonderful person, because I’m NOT. I think terrible things sometimes, and I genuinely upset myself with the sort of bile that I can come up with, so please don’t think that I’m sitting here preaching. All “Oh woe is me, I shall never be a famous feminist because I am just too damn sensitive and sweet and caring!”

That’s not it at all. I see my determination to be fair and listen to everyone as a weakness. I am entirely TOO WILLING to empathize and forgive.

Some things shouldn’t be forgiven. Sometimes you have to draw the line and not back down.

I’m not good at drawing the line and not backing down.

When it comes to huge stuff–rape, murder, outright hatred–I can stand up to that. But many of the little things? Maybe, as a feminist, I SHOULD hate Rapelay, or I SHOULD be firmly against cosplay that involves sexualizing women’s bodies, or I SHOULD refuse to take my imaginary future husband’s last name if I ever get married. But here’s my dirty little secret–a lot of that stuff… I just can’t get upset about it as I should. I need to choose my battles.

I don’t think I’ll ever become a famous feminist by choosing my battles. What I think I CAN become is a good role model and guide to the people around me. We all see the high profile members of any movement–Sarah Palin, believe it or not, is not actually representative of every Republican. Just like Valerie Solanas is not representative of every feminist.

People get turned off by extremes, unless they feel that same passion. Sometimes you have to move in baby steps, and sometimes you’re never going to hit the extremes no matter what. However, wouldn’t it be great if more women felt some sort of allegiance to feminism? Just little things, like not just knowing that just because a guy takes you out and buys you dinner you don’t owe him sex, but actually feeling it. Or feeling like it’s okay to pay for your share of dinner so that issues like that never even come up. Or keeping a level head and rational mind on your side while shopping for makeup and shoes and clothes–it’s not easy to overcome the beauty standards of our culture, and sometimes it’s even fun to subscribe to them, but making sure that you keep your rational mind working for you so that you don’t get overwhelmed and depressed is important. Keeping in mind the wage gap, and striving to earn fair pay and good working conditions is important.

We’ve won a lot of the big name battles–we have the vote, we can work outside the home, we have access to birth control and abortion (for now at least). All that’s left are the smaller battles, and most of us don’t have the passion or the investment to fight them.

Some of us are never going to be the intense firebrand feminists. We’re going to be the casual feminists, who want to balance feminism with the rest of our lives. Not everyone can make feminism the center of their lives. I know I can’t, as much as I used to dream of being one of the big movers and shakers in the movement. I know that’s not where my life is headed, or where my personality will take me.

I have faith in my ability to help others feel a little more confident and powerful in themselves. I have faith in my ability to help others become more aware of the inequalities and subtle barbs that clutter our culture–as to which battles they choose to fight is their own decision. I have faith in my ability to help empower others, but I do not have faith in my ability to steer them in a direction.

If I help people to feel a little stronger, I will consider that a victory. If I help people see from someone else’s point of view, even if I don’t necessarily agree with that point of view but just because I think it’s important for people to understand each other, I will consider that a victory.

I know that there are times that my over-eagerness to try to understand and empathize with the point of view of others makes me weaker and less of a fighter than I should be. But that is who I am, so I have to work with what I have. I guess that I could try to change, but that’s not something that I want to do. I think there’s worse weaknesses to have.

If it means that sometimes, yes, I will write in defense of hentai videogames, then that’s that. If it means I’ll keep wearing costumes that might not be ideal, then that’s that. I like to think that I’m still providing some sort of service.

Maybe I’m wrong. But I’ll choose my battles and fight them, and you can choose yours.

04/15/2010. Tags: . Uncategorized. 3 comments.

“It’s Just What I Find Attractive, Okay?”

It’s true that we can’t necessarily control what we find attractive–this goes back to my bit about fantasies and how we all have ’em. However, some people have unreasonable standards about what they find to be attractive. Where they draw the line on what they’ll admire.

What I’m talking about is the idea of “leagues,” as Holly covered at Pervocracy this weekend. (She also covers the issue of not being too touchy-feely, something I suffer from regularly. To put it bluntly, I’m a bit of an abrasive asshole, and I’ve never been big on being overly sensitive. I think being a bit MORE sensitive is something I could benefit from, but I’m never going to be the poster-child for the bleeding heart. I’m just not. So I rather enjoyed what she had to say. Anyways, tangent over.)

So, yeah, it’s not your fault that there’s certain physical things that do it for you. It’s okay to prefer certain physical attributes. However, it’s important to get a grasp on reality–is it that you genuinely just prefer 20 year old blondes with double-D chests, or are you wrapped up in all the social stuff that comes with that?

Last summer, I almost cried tears of joy when one of my guy friends confessed to me that he had realized that he was attracted to a certain kind of girl not because that’s necessarily what he found to be most attractive, but because his ego enjoyed the respect and value he was given by people because he could “catch” that kind of girl–that he must have some great social standing, inherent value, etc, if he could “own” that girl. It wasn’t that he wanted her as a girlfriend, it’s that he wanted the status that came with having her as a girlfriend.

See also: “trophy wife.”

This is feeding into the idea that women are prizes or achievements. That you have to date a “catch,” or it’s not worth it. Women as status symbols, not unlike watches or cars.

My underthings rebel and try to throw themselves at boys with tattoos and glasses and dark wash jeans. That will even override the specific physical type that I find most attractive. It’s partially an aesthetics thing, but there’s also other forces at work–I associate glasses with the nerdy, bookish type, and tattoos with a bit of the rocker/tough side, and visible tattoos with a bit of willingness to go against social norms. These are attributes I find attractive. I am actively disinterested in the bro-dude look (popped collars, “frosted” hair, faux tan, khakis, etc) because I am not attracted to the social associations that go with that.

What I’m trying to say is that what we’re attracted to isn’t just our physical programming; it’s actually rather often a socialized construct. When guys say that a girl is out of their league, they are very rarely referring to her personality. Even when women say that a guy is out of their league, they’re often referring to a discrepancy in looks (as measured by social norms) than anything else.

So I have a problem with this justification of the narrow, generic social determination of beauty because it turns women (and, in some cases, men) into trophies or prizes, where we put people on a hierarchy based on superficial characteristics that, when you get right down to it, often don’t even have to do with what we genuinely find attractive. When you really get into it with people, and you really start talking about what gets their motor running, it often turns out that what they find attractive is very different than the “normal” standards. What gets everyone’s heart going thump-thump is, like all aspects of our sexualities, a huge spectrum with enormous diversity.

So yeah, I tend to question people when they have a restricted view of what can be attractive (never mind how loaded it is when it’s a fat, lonely 50 year old dude who only wants waify 18 year olds–what, you genitals couldn’t mature past high school or something?) especially when there is no mention whatsoever of anything being very surface attributes. There’s nothing wrong with liking to look at people that have a certain appearance. That’s normal, that’s human, that’s fine. Just don’t turn dating into shopping for an action figure, or trying to win a prize. We’re people, not big game that you can mount on the wall and point out to all your buddies.

Oh, and memo: Nice Guys(TM), please remember that just because you’re nice, the world doesn’t owe you a hot girlfriend as a reward for your good behavior.

04/12/2010. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Money Talks – Living Your Politics

So I’ve blogged before trying to find shoes that I like that aren’t pedaled by an evil corporate overlord that was funding Santorum (blech!) and also on the ideas of living your politics (like an Evangelical, please don’t spend all your time talking about your beliefs–just go ahead and live them. “Actions speak louder than words” and all that [big long rant redacted]).

As we all know, money talks. If you don’t want to support something, don’t spend your money on it.

I was just talking to one of my friends about coffee shops. I will go grossly out of my way to try to get coffee beverages from a local place, because I worked at a local coffee shop for about 7 years, and when one of our fellow local shop’s lease was up for renewal, Starbucks came in and sniped it by jacking up the price to beyond what they could pay and forcing them out of business. I now have a moral objection to Starbucks.

This is a philosophy I am striving to expand into the rest of my life. I’ve set a challenge for myself for this summer that I will only buy new clothes if I absolutely HAVE to, and if I do, they have to come from stores that I’ve researched and approve of the philosophy and actions of the company. If possible, I should buy from used clothing stores. Otherwise, I will be making anything I want or need. I’m trying to also segue from buying my materials at box stores like Joann’s, and instead moving to local shops. One of the things I miss about my old neighborhood was the local food coop only a few blocks away. I try to buy fair trade. I try to make note of women-friendly products and businesses, as well as queer-friendly and non-gender policing.

It’s easy, especially in a big city like Boston full of the easy convenience of big name stores with low prices, to go the path of least resistance. But our big talk is worth only so much if we don’t act on it. We of the righteous ragin’ liberal left really like to talk about equality, and stopping this culture that sanctions all kinds of abuses. Well, we need to make sure we live it. Because if we’re talkin’ the talk, but then going out and spending our money at places that just uphold all this stuff we’re raging against, then we’re nothing but sacks of hot air.

It’s not easy. It can occasionally be more expensive. It’s a lifestyle that I am certainly not great at, but I strive constantly to improve. Sure, I’m one grain of sand–but enough grains of sand and you eventually have a beach. Where and how we spend our money is living our politics, and it’s a very real, very simple way to begin to effect social change. It’s not glamorous or highly visible, but not everything is going to a big ol’ headline on the CV of justness. I’m not saying this is the number one best way to change things, but it’s a step. Every step counts.

04/09/2010. Tags: . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

A Brief Note

I really enjoy fashion, particularly from the standpoint of making my own. However, there are things I can’t make myself–shoes, purses, etc. Some things, like leggings, are easier and sometimes even cheaper to just buy.

But COME THE FUCK ON, people! Who the hell is writing your advertising copy?

The next time I have to read about the buckle on a purse being “sassy,” I will snap.

The buckle is sassy? Really? I find that hard to believe.

How is the trim on that pair of shoes sassy?

Why is sassy the new favorite word of fashion marketing?

I want to buy a plucky purse. Or perhaps anti-authoritarian shoes. Or shit-kicking leggings.

Truly, I have long hated the word “sassy,” and applying it to inanimate objects (or not even the objects themselves, but objects affixed to said objects) is just downright ridiculous and infuriating.

In other news, I would like men to start wearing sassy jeans or perhaps sassy neckties. Seriously. Doesn’t that sound ridiculous? Yes.

04/08/2010. Tags: , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Damn Those Cartoons!

This past weekend, I attended Anime Boston 2010. I helped out a friend with his booth in the dealer’s room, where I carded kids to keep them from browsing or purchasing any of his adult comic books (which accounts for about 75% of what he sells). Yes, that’s right, the man sells hentai. Lots of it. Of all different kinds.

At the same time, he’s one of the leading pro-feminist dudes in my life. He’s got a really good grasp on gender relations, respects women, and is comfortable with all spectrums of gender and sexuality (or at least he seems it). I rank him very high on my list of “dudes I feel really safe and comfortable around.” Having a basement full of Japanese porn hasn’t turned him into a skeevy woman-hating rapist.

Also, as you may recall, I’ve mentioned time and time again that I love porn. I really do. Either it’s really hot, or it’s really hilarious. Either way, it’s fun! Some of the porn I like surprises people. Hell, some of the things I like in the bedroom surprises people. Apparently, feminists have a very narrow spectrum of what we’re allowed to enjoy sexually, because everything else is degrading.

Well that’s just not true. Two consenting adults who respect each other are never actually degrading each other. Whatever gets you off isn’t degrading unless it is made to be degrading. That’s up to you and your partner (so pick your partners wisely). A partner who respects you can do all kinds of things to you without losing that respect or seeing it as degrading.

Likewise, a person who is well-adjusted and understands the difference between fantasy and reality can enjoy all kinds of crazy-ass porno without having to commit any of those acts in real life. You can fap to whatever you want without that controlling your brain.

Every time I hear that people jerking off to a specific kind of porn is going to lead to them running out and becoming blinded by lust and unable to control their urges and forcing women into participating in their creepy weird fantasies, I die a little inside. It’s the same thing as saying that men rape because they just can’t help themselves; they are dominated by their penises.

NO. NO, GODDAMMIT. Biological essentialism is bullshit, no matter what wrapping paper you put it in. Either men are violent rapists by nature, and all it takes is a girl in a mini-skirt or some porn to trigger it, or they aren’t. You can’t have it both ways. I stand firmly in my belief that men aren’t penis-drones; they can control their junk.

Besides, as people have pointed out many times, this is basically the same as the videogame violence issue. Let she who has never had fun playing GTA or God of War or Fallout cast the first stone. If those videogames don’t cause us to reenact them, why would any other?

What I’m getting at here is the whole RapeLay controversy. I’ll be honest–the concept does make me a little squeamish. I’m not sure how I’d feel if I was dating a guy and I found out he played it. But censorship is censorship and I do not endorse the banning or censoring of media. The comments over at Jezebel are really great–there’s a lot of people having a lot of good discussion. Several times, the issue of violent videogames is brought up, as is the issue of policing sexuality.

A fantasy is just that: a fantasy. Some people play them out through safe relationships, some people watch porn, and others just think about them. But as long as they are not actively harming another person with their fantasy, then they shouldn’t have to justify it or deal with people putting laws and bans on it. People have rape fantasies. They also have fantasies about gay sex, oral sex, and plain old lights-out-under-the-covers-missionary. That’s all FINE. As long as we don’t start actively harming others because of our fantasies, we can fantasize about whatever we want. Orgasms are great! Go ahead and have ’em. (And people always bring in the “well, what about child porn?” And the answer is “that’s not okay, because that is actively harming the child.” Although it grosses me the hell out, I have nothing against illustrated kid stuff, because that’s just a way for people to get their fantasy on. Gives me the heebie-jeebies, but I’m sure some of my fantasies would give them the heebie-jeebies, so it’s all fair.)

I am hesitant to start calling for bans and policing of free speech, of media being what it wants to be, because it’s a slippery slope.

We don’t need to have sexual violence legislated out of our society (I mean, look how well laws have worked at stopping murder and drug use and people driving over the speed limit!). We need to change our society to one that doesn’t accept and condone sexual violence. It’s possible to have whatever fantasies you want and look at whatever porn you want without condoning sexual violence. We need to treat each other with respect on a day to day basis and always regard one another as human beings. This means we learn to disagree with others and to accept our differences.

04/07/2010. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Yes, Our Flight Attendants Are Why the Economy is Tanking.

Before I start this post, full disclosure: my dad is an airline pilot and my stepmom is a flight attendant. I’m not entirely unbiased here.

Anyways, apparently when a Spanish airline went bankrupt, they owed their flight attendants something along the lines of 8 or 9 months of wages. In order to protest this, the flight attendants are posing naked for a calendar.

I don’t have a problem with the posing naked, but I DO want to know… How exactly is this protesting the unpaid wages? How is this solving the problem?

Then I made the mistake of scrolling through the comments. I really, really ought to know better.

Why is it that foreign airlines have pretty young flight attendants, while American stewardesses are mainly dried-up old bags?

Oh, I dunno. They probably get sapped of their will to live due to having to spend their lives making $18k a year at best while dealing with jackasses like you. I hear that can be terribly dehydrating.

The responses to that inquiry were equally precious:

Because American Airlines have to face our overly PC and litigious culture, and have forgotten what stewardesses are there for.

Call me old fashioned, but I thought flight attendants were there to serve you food, bring you blankets, and keep you safe during the flight. I was unaware that in fact they are supposed to be airborne sex-delivery systems. Someone should probably inform the airlines that those weeks of training that they make flight attendants attend every year and all those certifications that they’re expected to keep current are actually completely irrelevant because they have nothing to do with a flight attendant’s REAL PURPOSE. Of course. What value can safety and professionalism have when there are penises in this world that aren’t receiving flying blowjobs at this very second?

Our country is in crisis, clearly.

yes, FOREIGN stewardesses are way younger and hotter.

what’s wrong w/ U.S? this is why our economy is not growing.

Oh but of course. Never mind the fact that these foxy young foreign flight attendants are protesting because THEIR AIRLINE WENT BANKRUPT.

Pfft. Details. The point is, they’re out there and naked. If American flight attendants would hurry up and get young, slim, and naked, all our economic woes would be solved!

The problems with the airline industry couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the ridiculous restrictions that keep being placed on the airlines that continue to drive costs higher and higher (coupled with an increase in the cost of fuel and provisions), the absurd TSA song and dance you have to do to take even the shortest domestic flight, or the fact that the majority of the American public doesn’t think of air travel as safe so they don’t utilize it. Yes, none of these things could possibly contribute to the low rates of air travel, which in turn drives the tickets even higher than they’ve already been inflated due to all the other outside circumstances.

All of that is completely beside the point.

The problem is that our flight attendants are insufficiently sexy.

Yep. That’s definitely it.

04/02/2010. Tags: . Uncategorized. 3 comments.