The Crotchal Tyranny!

Fear me, for I am the High Queen Crotchula, Withholder of the Sacred Vaginamancy!

So I have had this article sitting open in a tab in Firefox for a while now, waiting for my brain to be ready to be coherent about it. I am, honestly, failing hard. It just blows my mind.

It is an article entitled “Reasons Women Withhold Sex.”

First, let’s talk title: withholding sounds evil. You withhold rent if your landlord turns off your heat. You withhold food if you’re a prison overlord from a horror pulp in the 40s. You withhold services.

I am going to say this, and I’m only going to say it once:

My vagina is not a service.

Astounding, right? Anyways, moving on.

Reason 1: She’s pissed.

A HURR HURR DURR. I see someone has been working hard on this one! Yep, sometimes, when angry at a significant other, we do not get turned on. It’s true! Just like sometimes because there are other things in our mind we do not want to cook, or balance our checkbooks, or solve multivariate calculus equations. Sometimes, the things that are urgently on our mind ARE URGENTLY THERE. So it’s hard to think about other things–including sex.

Reason 2: She’s asserting herself.

…because you are such a jackass that you have shown her the only way she can possibly hold ANY power is through her vagina. Good work. You dug this hole for yourself, so I’m just gonna stand back and laugh, okiedokie?

“If there’s one area of a relationship women think they have control over, it’s sex.”

Truly, it is positively INSANE for us to think that we have the right to decide whether or not something is put inside of our bodies. Consent–it’s totally just a figment of a crazy little woman’s imagination!

Reason 3: She’s manipulating you.

“When no other methods of getting what she wants are working, she might resort to revoking your sex privileges until you agree to what she’s after.”

Now remember, boyfriend, you can only play with the toys if you behave yourself and eat all your vegetables! …Seriously? Seriously? Can we please grow up here?

I think what bothers me the most about this statement is that sometimes it is actually TRUE. Bastions of rationality such as Cosmo encourage women to go on sex embargoes to get things from men, or to get their boyfriends to prove how they “really feel.” People, that is NOT the foundation of a healthy relationship! And in this article, the advice is to just give in and give her what she wants. How about instead of feeding a passive-aggressive cycle, you elect to be the mature one and see what’s going on and try to, y’know, communicate?

No, of course not. Why would we do that when we can continue to use our detachable genitals as bargaining chips? Just stick the ol’ vagina in a tupperware in the freezer till you need it.

Reason 4: She’s bored.

“She could be avoiding sex with you because she’s not enjoying it.”

Okay, article, good work. You have made a valid point. It turns out, dudes, that us ladies do occasionally become involved with you folk for reasons other than sex (it’s been years since I’ve done that, so don’t look at me). And word on the street is that when y0u care about someone, you put up with a lot of shit. Including your boyfriend’s unattractive beer gut, his lack of interest in foreplay, and the fact that he’s just not a good lay, if he even lasts very long. Truly, it is astounding the sort of sexual desserts women will exile them to because the guy is so great in other ways. So yeah, she might actually even actively dislike sleeping with you! But she doesn’t want to hurt your fragile penile ego, because we know how important the majesty of your dick is to you.

Scathing bitchiness aside, it’s true–sometimes couples don’t have sex often because the sex is unsatisfying. It’s the job of BOTH members of the couple to fix this. But dudes, as much as it might be painful to think, when your girlfriend is avoiding sex, instead of assuming that she’s manipulating you or trying to make a point about her power, pause to think when the last time you gave her orgasm was (and remember When Harry Met Sally. Faking: it happens). Think about to what extent you’ve really worried about her satisfaction, and think about whether or not she has been responsive. This is actually probably the BEST problem to have when it comes to lack of sex, because it means you’re not dating a bitch. This can be fixed without someone needing to be kicked to the curb. And fixing it can be FUUUNNN!

Reason 5: She’s tired.

Again, how astute. Yes, sometimes we just want some sleep. No, really. It happens. It happens to dudes, too! I’ve been turned down for sex by partners because they’re tired. It’s kind of part of the modern world–we work hard, we’re busy, we don’t get enough rest, so we’re tired. If you’ve never been too tired for sex, then either your sex requires very minimal energy, which is kind of depressing, or you have an easy life, and I would like to borrow it.

Although, a note from this section: “Or, you could be truly unselfish and devote your time entirely to her pleasure for one night, making her more likely to want to return the favor another time.”

Yeeeeeep. That about says it all. You don’t devote your time to pleasing your significant other because you like to make that person happy–you do it in hopes that it will be reciprocated in the future.

Fun trivia: when I’m with a guy, I like sucking his dick because I like making him happy. I’m not getting turned on by it because I’m gleefully thinking “Oh boy, oh boy, now he pretty much HAS to eat me out!” No, I’m thinking about how much I like satisfying my partner and how hot it is to hear him breathing hard and moaning. I really have a hard time believing that I’m the only one like that.

Reason 6: She’s cheating.

I can’t really argue that. I find cheating abhorrent from either sex, so I won’t even begin to make an argument for the woman in this case.

Reason 7: Playing games.

It’s a good thing I don’t actually own an xbox or Playstation, because I’d probably pass up sex pretty often so that I could try to beat that level. “Sorry sweetie, I can’t come to bed yet, I’ve decided to turn to the Dark Side so I’m using my Force powers to toss Jawas at stormtroopers. UTINNI!”

Oh. Oh wait, they don’t mean those kinds of games.

“Women withhold sex because men let them get away with it.”

Yeah, gotta keep those bitches in line. Don’t they know that vaginas belong to the MENS and that they can’t be ALLOWED to keep them away? Jeez. Next time your woman tries to deny you access to the vagina that is rightfully yours, squirt her with a bottle of water or smack her on the nose with a newspaper. When pets misbehave, they can’t be allowed to get away with it!

“It’s pretty clear it’s the one thing that most guys can’t live without and that they’ll do pretty much anything to keep it coming on a regular basis.”

Ah yes, the “men are slaves to their penises and have zero cognitive capacity beyond what their penis is kind enough to allow them” argument.

DUDE-FOLK. YOU HAVE BRAINS. I SWEAR. I KNOW IT. You aren’t just penis-transport-mechanisms. You have free will and the ability to think rationally and make decisions for yourself and all kinds of neat things! As much as I love the word “vaginamancy,” it isn’t actually possible for a woman to control you with her vagina unless you let her.

Please. Please stop this bullshit. I am so sick of hearing about how men are powerless in the face of sex and vaginas because they just WANT IT SO BADLY, and women are sex-hating man-manipulating lumps of frigidity.

I seriously do not understand why people continue to bother with trying to have relationships when this is the sort of bullshit that we are being programmed with. Everything about that article made me not want to be a woman, and not want to date a man.

Congratulations, Fox. I think you have turned me gay.

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06/14/2010. Tags: , , , , , . Uncategorized. 1 comment.

“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.

Breakin’ Hearts and Takin’ Names

Gentlemen, I am here to break hearts and chew gum. And I am all outta gum.

Seriously, though, there is something about a lady who does not return a dude’s feelings. That something is “bitchiness.” Or perhaps “cuntiness” if the dude is feeling particularly vulnerable-ized.

Over at the always super-rad Tiger Beatdown, Sady has done something brave that I am too scared to do–she has watched (500) Days of Summer. Lady deserves a medal or something, because as soon as I heard the smallest description of what that damn movie was about, I knew it would take gunpoint at minimum to make me watch it (although her descriptions of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s handsomeness make a strong case to give it a go). It just screams, “Magic vaginas! Magic vaginas! The Manic Pixie Dream Girl (TM) has gone awry! Somebody hit ctrl+alt+del because we’re getting the relationship blue screen of death!”

Because when a dude finds a lady and determines that her vagina is going to be the vagina to Make Him Good or whatever it is that dudes are lookin’ for in a vagina, it is not okay for the vagina to have other plans. Dude needs to put his penis there, ya dig? That whole “being independent” thing is really gonna cramp his style. Her quirkiness and independent spirit are all well and good–as long as they apply to every part of her life except him. He needs his sexual healing. He needs his lady to prop up his self esteem and give him worth and be his property.

It’s just not okay for a lady to not have feelings or to not be after feelings. Cause us ladies, we are chock full of feelings. Like Old Faithful, we are geysers of feelings. In fact, we’re more like Mount Saint Helen’s, or maybe Vesuvius–we got so many feelings that we lay apocalyptic waste to the landscape with all our messy sloppy emotions. So when we do not provide feelings to the gentlemen who want ’em, then it is highly probable that the planet has stopped spinning on its axis.

People, this is like… Coping skills. For real.

I know so many guys who are so obsessively hung up on some ex, which is part of why I live in fear of ever accidentally seeing (500) Days of Summer. I think I might stab someone.

I had the Really Big Deal Relationship. It lasted about two years, and there was some Serious Motherfuckin’ Drama with the end of it. Guess what? I moved on. Hell, I even occasionally get dinner or drinks with the dude. You know why? Because life doesn’t always pan out. Almost all the time, the people we think are so really ultra mega super duper perfect are actually not all that perfect. We kick back and idealize them and throw them up on a pedestal.

I’ll bet that chick in (500) Days was not the flawless angel that our poor emotive hero thinks she is, kind of like none of my buddy’s exes are the paragons of humanity that they think they are. And what this is, you guys, is creepy. It’s a different kind of objectification–instead of turning a woman into a sex object, it’s turning her into an emotional sponge. A place to put all your problems and neuroses and neediness. It’s denying her any agency or self, because instead of being who she is, she is being what you want her to be.

You guys, it’s creepy. It’s not cute or sweet or flattering when a guy can’t move the fuck on. It’s scary and it’s upsetting.

And then we pile onto this the rage that this idealized heavenly being isn’t responding in the way that you have decided she is supposed to and is instead exhibiting her own personality and independent will. Suddenly she is a bitch and a whore and deserving of being raged against (mind you, all this anger will vanish the second she agrees to once again be his very special Manic Pixie Dream Girl magic vagina of cuteness). This makes me especially uncomfortable because I think there’s a slippery slope toward actual violence against the woman in question. This is where stalking comes from.

As Sady points out near the end, in one of my favorite points, if a female were to behave the way Gordon-Levitt does, the censure against her would be like a tornado armed with knives and brass knuckles. She’d be psychotic and clingy and unable to move on. Because he’s a man, though, he’s simply sensitive and sweet and romantic.

I call bullshit.

Fuck you, double standard. If a lady wants to go ahead and have a sexual relationship without offering herself up emotionally, that’s her prerogative. And any dude who is gonna make himself out like he’s this vulnerable fucking martyr while he puts her on a pedestal and walks around lamenting how positively awful it is that she didn’t give him what he wanted even though she said no from the very beginning–well, he’s a sleazy jackass.

Emotional boundaries: they exist, just like physical boundaries. If you can’t admit that, then Houston, we have a problem.

I’m not saying that getting your heartbroken isn’t okay. We all get clotheslined by our hearts now and again–it’s not the exclusive domain of dudes or ladies or straights or gays or any possible bit of the gender or sexuality or whatever spectrum. However, we’re all responsible for learning how to cope and move on and keep on living. This celebration of the heartbroken man crying over this woman who would be so perfect if only she were the imaginary thing in his head has got to stop because frankly, it’s goddamn ridiculous. Please stop trying to date your imaginary friend. The rest of us left those behind in elementary school, ya know?

The Manic Pixie Dream Girl isn’t actually real, so please stop looking for her and please stop getting angry at every woman who turns out to not be her. Just because we don’t love you back doesn’t mean that we’re whores or bitches or lesbians. (I mean, we might be, but it’s not necessarily for that reason.) There is a chance that, you know, we’re just not that into you.

I hear there’s a book about that. Sure, it’s targeted at women, but don’t worry, you sweet sensitive dude of emotional in touchness, you can read it too. Cause you’ve got those feelings, so you can relate, right?

03/17/2010. Tags: , , , , , . Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Don’t Laugh At My Shoes, Motherfucker.

Back around the holidays, a bunch of my friends all gathered to drink hot toddies, mulled wine, and other warm (and alcoholic) holiday beverages while eating roasted chestnuts and hollering carols. We were having a really good time.

In a crowded living room, I found myself sitting on an ottoman, so I stretched my legs out in front of me. I had come straight from work, so I was wearing a skirt and my new black wedge heels were more or less in the middle of the room. One of the other women at the party said, “Oh wow, those are so cute! Are they new?” Always happy to talk up my own frugality, I joyously shared with her the great sale price and free overnight shipping I had gotten, as well as promoting their comfort.

A man walked into the room. He stopped short. He shook his head and went, “Leave the ladies alone and it turns to shoes. I just don’t get it!”

I was several spiced wines in, so I spun around gave him what-for. Look, buddy, we don’t wear 4 inch heels and skinny jeans that require Vaseline and several ladies-in-waiting to get into for OUR sake. Push-up bras were not invented with women in mind. Bikinis are not practical for swimming. We don’t primp and preen because we think it’s fun to get up stupid early so we can style our hair and do our makeup before going to the office to make 75 cents of your dollar and be called “sweetie” by the UPS guy and have people on the phone ask for “someone who actually manages things there” and be denied promotions because we’ll probably catch baby fever soon and end up leaving the company anyways. No. That is not actually a hobby.

We do this for YOU. The male gaze.

We wear cute shoes, because if we wore sneakers and combat boots all the time, we’d never hear the fucking end of it. So don’t you DARE roll your eyes and laugh at how stupid and inexplicable it is that women are so obsessed we shoes.

We are because our society has made us this way. We are because we have to be. Because if we don’t subscribe to our proper role and wear our pumps and skirts and blouses or little black dresses and red lipstick then we aren’t proper women. And if we aren’t proper women, we don’t get our shitty underpaid dead-end jobs and we don’t get to date our creepy skeezy boyfriends.

So no, we don’t HAVE to do any of this. We aren’t obligated to look pretty and girly. But it’s pretty fucking internalized into this culture and everyone who participates in it as to what women SHOULD look like and how they SHOULD behave. It’s a lot harder to achieve ANYTHING, even the tiny little shitty “rewards” that we get to “win,” if you don’t look like you should and act like you should.

There is nothing more infuriating than listening to a man talk shit about how irritating it is that women are only interested in clothes and makeup and shoes and that they can’t take them out anywhere because they’re counting calories and they take forever to get ready for anything… But just listen to the way the shit will hit the fan if ladies DON’T do any of those things. I have heard guys criticize both in the same breath, even!

Our culture demands that women subscribe to a certain lifestyle but then berates, belittles, and degrades them for following the instructions that they have been given. If you stray, however, the punishment is worse.

What the fuck.

All I am saying is that if motherfucking vajazzling ever hits the point where it is being talked about like my shoes, I am going to start burning shit down.

03/15/2010. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. 2 comments.

Happy birthday, Nessie!

Well, I’m a little early, but I’d like to wish Nessie a happy birthday. Her official birthday is actually March 17th, 2006, but in light of this amazing article about contraception on The Sexist, I just have to make her birthday post a little early.

Nessie is my birth control, so named because like the Loch Ness monster, she lurks in the deep dark places. I have a Mirena IUD (intra-uterine device), which remains in my uterus for 5 years while steadily releasing eensy weensy amounts of the hormone levonorgestrel (it’s okay–I can’t pronounce it either!). It works on multiple levels to help prevent pregnancy and is incredibly effective.

I’ve been on and off of some form of hormonal birth control since I was 15. When I first stopped taking the pill at 18, largely because I could not afford to keep paying for it each month, I discovered exactly how much the hormones had been gravely fucking with me. I was an emotional, neurotic mess with bad skin and some extra pounds that I couldn’t shake no matter how unhealthy I let my eating habits get. I had no sex drive and I was uncomfortable with and disgusted by my own body, despite my burgeoning feminist tendencies.

I am convinced that the birth control pill is one of the biggest shackles we as women are burdened with. There is a huge lack of education surrounding birth control that leads to a lot of misinformation or simple ignorance. People refer to “the pill” as if it is something monolithic when it’s not. There’s dozens of different kinds of pills, from tri-cyclens (that give a different dose of hormones each week) to monophasic (a steady dose over the entire active pill cycle) to low-dose pills to a variety of hormone blends, and of course there’s an army of generics of all of those. Plus there’s an arsenal of non-pill options, such as the patch, the shot, the ring, and my personal choice, the IUD (which comes in two flavors–the Mirena, with a low dose of hormones, and the ParaGard, which is hormone-free).

Putting hormones into our bodies fucks us up. We’re people, not science experiments. Every version of every one of those contraception options that I listed will muck up your body chemistry in some way, and very rarely is it for the better (some women get slightly bigger boobs and/or clearer skin while on HBC, but I don’t think the trade off is worth it. Your mileage may vary, though). Fucking with our bodies leads to all kinds of unpleasantness. It’s a way of giving up our independence (and I will admit that my IUD does include a very low dose of hormones, so I’m guilty as well; the ParaGard would not have been a healthy choice for me, however) and letting someone else–drug companies, among others–control us. Think about it–that PMS? That’s not your PMS. That PMS is brought to you by Pfizer. Kinda creepy, when you think about it (especially considering how much shit you’ll then take for having PMS in the first place when it’s all “DUDE, I am riding a fucking hormone tsunami because of this bitty little pill that I take because you don’t like to wear a condom cause it like cramps your baller style or whatever the fuck it is!” Man, not cool).

I hear from women all the time about all these issues they’re having–their bodies are behaving weirdly, their emotions are out of control, they’ve lost their sex drive, they’re depressed, etc. The majority of the time, we can trace the problem back to their HBC. I’ll give them a quick little tutorial on all the different kinds of birth control and suggest which option might be better (even just switching off the generic of your pill can have a huge impact, believe it or not). Everyone’s body responds to hormones differently, but here’s the hitch–no one tells us about this shit. No one warns us that just because our BFF is on Yaz and it is fucking the shit for her and she’s having orgasms that make the Fourth of July look boring, we might get on Yaz and discover ourselves 20 lbs heavier and without any sex drive to speak of. On principle, I hate treating my body like a hormone cocktail shaker (unless, of course, I’m about to be lapped up by James Bond. Then we can talk). However, I understand the draw of traditional HBC for many women. I just wish we had more education on the veritable cornucopia of anti-baby drugs out there. This is America, land of plenty. You are not married to your birth control, and even if you are, shit girl, get a divorce if that crap isn’t loving you!

When I get the opportunity, I encourage women to experiment with not being on birth control at all. I got my IUD, which admittedly has a low dose of hormones, after a year and a half of being completely off hormonal birth control. I spent a month or two doing thorough research of my options and looking at the decision from all angles before deciding on the Mirena (depending on how sharing I’m feeling, on Nessie’s birthday I may post in depth about the research I did and my motivations for my choice, as well as more about my experience as an IUD user). Most women get big round eyes and go, “But then we’d have to use condoms!”

Awwww HELL NO I do not ever want to hear that kind of horrified response to condoms!

I love dudes who wear condoms. The quickest way to dry my out like the Sahara is try to avoid using a rubber when things are getting hot and heavy. In order to make sure that any excuse a dude can possibly try to pull is utterly null and void, I actually keep a condom in my purse, a practice that I wish more ladies would get into. There’s no real reason for a guy not having a condom, but sometimes they just don’t. And we’re the ones who are stuck with the babybakin’ ovens snug inside our pelvises, so really, it couldn’t hurt to carry a condom just in case. That doesn’t make you a slut–that makes you responsible. And responsible is sexy.

However, on the topic of condoms, it’s really astounding to me how rarely they are used. One of the comments on the above linked article remarks, “You can turn on the tv, and find a Trojan condom ad usually everyday of the week. I’m sure if you took a poll of men, about 100 percent of the male respondents would know what a condom is.” This is true. You can see a lot of ads for Trojans. They feature things like CGI pigs in clubwear.

That doesn’t tell viewers jack shit about how to use a condom. And that’s what’s important–the basic concept of the condom is self explanatory, and yet I can assure you, as someone who spent a summer as a peer health educator for Planned Parenthood (complete with wooden penis and day-glo magenta demo condoms) that in reality, very few people know how to use a condom. There’s the whole issue of putting it on right side out, for starters. There’s the matter of remembering to pinch the tip. There’s that whole rolling thing. Seriously guys, it’s boggling. I’ve saddled up a wooden faux-peen over and over for demos and this summer I had my first experience of applying a condom to a real live dude–holy shit! It’s way different and super scary! No joke, I was afraid I was gonna break him. Not the condom. Him. Talk about performance anxiety!

So I have a lot of sympathy for people who don’t even have a passing familiarity with the theory of condom use, let alone any sort of in-depth knowledge. Dudes and gals, it’s okay–there is not a goddamn thing instinctive about using a condom, and they are that weird color, you’re making a dude’s otherwise pretty sexy instrument look like it’s about to go SCUBA diving to boot. I understand. It’s uncomfortable stuff, especially with a new partner.

But in all the world, there ain’t nothin’ like a condom when it comes to being safe. My IUD is, granted, a more reliable form of birth control, but babies, believe it or not, are not necessarily the biggest, baddest things in the world. There’s STDs and that shit is SCARY. That can fuck you up. That can kill you.

And that’s what I advocate that ladies experiment with taking some time off from hormonal birth control–because no matter what, you should be using condoms basically all the time anyways. Of course, when we get into committed relationships with set sexual understandings, it can be fun and romantic (and, let’s face it, sexy) to throw condoms to the wind. After, of course, both partners getting tested for STDs. However, being on birth control is NOT ENOUGH to keep you safe for one night stands, casual dating, etc.

Unless you know for absolute certain (and, for the record, just because someone is a virgin doesn’t mean they are disease-free!), always use a condom. If nothing else, that just makes it that much better when you finally hit the point in your relationship that you aren’t using them anymore. And it makes your life that much better, because you don’t have any nasty surprises.

The article on The Sexist is great–funny, far less wordy than I am, and interesting. However, a lighthearted enjoyable read can lead to some heavy stuff. Birth control is heavy stuff, and it isn’t given nearly the attention it deserves in our world.

Educate yourself. Educate your friends, no matter their gender. This is really important.

03/04/2010. Tags: , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. 9 comments.

Love in the Time of Feminism

Hello, my name is Cuppy van der Cake and I am a single feminist.

Dating as a feminist isn’t actually as glamorous as you might think (for starters, the expressions of genuine surprise when I show up on a date wearing a skirt and heels–“Wow, you look amazing. Wait, you’re a feminist. Are you allowed to do that?” Foot In Mouth Disease continues to afflict huge numbers of our nation’s men). Feminism is such an “f-word” in our society and so loaded with so many connotations–most of them patently false–that just casually dropping the word into conversation can lead to more melodramatic facial expression than a college performance of Hamlet. On the one hand, it’s a great litmus–if the guy immediately looks like his genitals just took up residence high up in his abdomen, he’s probably not compatible with me. I’ve also gotten some great teaching opportunities out of it, such as with my friend who, when out with me once, remarked, “I still can’t get over the fact that you’re a feminist. I mean, you’re so much fun!” (While I enjoy elucidating my politics to him semi-regularly, you’ll note he’s no more than f riend.) Sure, it’s always great to demystify feminism and have the opportunity to help someone better understand what this whole racket is about.

Trust me, I’ve got my fair share of aggravation that it requires the guy hoping that he’ll get laid to make him willing to actually listen to me.

There’s also been the fair share of people who respond really poorly. That’s terribly disappointing, believe me, but also disappointing is the fact that they receive such mixed signals that it’s almost hard to blame them.

This morning, one of my friends linked me to an article on CNN about first date rules for guys to help them get a second date.  I don’t even know where to begin with disappointing this article is, and should be, for both women and men. For starters, the entire thing is just one constant reinforcement of gender roles in the worst way.

We do not want to decide where to go. We will never tell you this, but it is true. Ask us what kind of place and/or food we like; then, pick a place like that. Do not leave it up to us to choose. You are the man. Act like one.

Really? Is that REALLY necessary? Why does picking the place have to fall on the burden of the MAN? What does it have to do with gender? I’ve always thought that the person who does the inviting should make suggestions on where they would like to take the other person. I mean, why ask someone out if you have no ideas about what to do? But likewise, person being asked out, why would you agree to go out with someone if you can’t come up with something or someplace that you’d like to share with them?

Ultimately, this is a disgusting reinforcement of the idea of women as receptacles in the dating world–we are passive objects, upon which dating is an action that men perform. Why on earth would we want to show any agency in making any decisions or being active in the potential relationship? Our willingness to conform to whatever our man wants, and to prop up his ego with grateful appreciation that he has spared us from the agonizing pain of having to make a decision, is really where our charm lies. Or at least it must be, because our charm is apparently not in the fact that we know a really great hole-in-the-wall Japanese restaurant with a fantastic cocktail list that we’d love to share with someone interesting.

If you forget, we will feel angry and want to leave. Then you will be sorry.

Are we on a date, or are we negotiating a hostage situation? Yes, that’s right, do as I wish or NO VAGINA FOR YOU! Listen buddy, I’m not screwing around here–either you start listening and asking thoughtful and sensitive questions, or I will start letting my pubic hair grow in! YOU’LL BE SORRY!

Feminism, shmeminism. Take care of the bill without comment. That is what we want. Wave off any offer to go dutch. We lied. We don’t want to pay half.

Oh. My. God. Do I even need to say anything? I can’t even decide which part of this comment to bold for emphasis. It’s just all so finger-lickin’ good rage-inducin’ IDIOCY. I can’t bring myself to sell short any of it by emphasizing one part over another.

Sweet merciful apeshit pogosticking christ on a fuckshingle.

MUST we push women back fifty years every time we turn around? Really? Look, I’m not saying I don’t appreciate it when a guy picks up the tab because my dates usually make more than I do–I’m a grad student and I work in the education sector, so if you think I can afford, well, anything, then you’d be wrong–but to expect it, and to suggest that not paying the whole tab could be the reason why a guy doesn’t get a second date… That is incredibly insulting.

It is 2010. The age demographic that is reading CNN and stumbling upon these dating tips are presumably all in at least their 20s. Therefore, we have jobs, we have apartments, many of us have crippling student loans, possibly even car loans or mortgages. Gym memberships, cell phones, all of that jazz–modern living is not cheap, and yet us ladies are managing to pay our way through all of that. So why, for fuck’s sake, can we not pay for our share of a dinner? What happened to being independent and competent?

Don’t even get me started on my reaction to the “feminism shmeminism” bit. I think I burst so many blood vessels from my rage that I have permanently discolored my face (bonus: no more need to navigate the tricksy dating landscape!). THIS IS WHAT IS WRONG. THIS IS WHERE MIXED SIGNALS COME FROM.

Women: are we still children? Do we need our dates to be our fathers? If the answer is NO, then find that backbone that you surely must have somewhere inside that body of yours and pay for your fucking dinner! If that’s too challenging, then maybe offer to pay for after dinner drinks. Basically, this isn’t the 50s anymore–women can, and do, work. We have our own income, so there’s no longer a RATIONAL reason to have the men pay. It’s just upholding a gender imbalance, encouraging restrictive roles, and continuing to relegate women to commodities that are purchased (sure, he’s not actually handing you cash and saying “that’ll be one blowjob, please,” but there’s a heavy cultural subtext in that direction).

Anyways, continuing on down the line. Let’s say the date is successful, despite all these ridiculous expectations and bullshit norms flying around, and we keep on seeing each other. We make it to the sexytimez. Awww yeeeaaah.

First off, as Lady GaGa has so aptly observed, “When a guy says, ‘Oh I fucked all these chicks this week,’ there’s a high-five and giggling. But when a woman does it and its publicised or she’s open about her sexuality or she’s free or liberated, it’s, ‘Oh, she must have a dick.'”

So, that certainly launched into the “oh god it’s hard to be a woman and have sex” segment of this post!

But yeah, it’s hard to be a woman and have sex. The virgin/whore dichotomy is so popular and so prevalent that it almost doesn’t need a name; it’s just “our culture.” Women need to be sexy and sexualized and utterly sexually available–but also to just one man. He shouldn’t have to exert any effort to obtain her services–because that would make her a tease; she’d be blueballing him!–but nonetheless he should be the only man who ever has or ever will touch her. (Why is this? Is it because every man secretly knows that Captain Kirk is the coolest, so they too want to go where no man has gone before? Is it rampant insecurity about their performance? Is it the ability to claim ownership of the woman’s sexuality? I have no idea. I prefer not to hypothesize too much.)  So if you can even manage to get to the sexytimes, they are fraught with the peril that you will suddenly transform from desirable partner into shameful hussy, all in the matter of minutes.

As it turns out, sex is FUN. It feels good. The female body is wired incredibly well for sex. Ladies, our bodies kick ass. Even without another person present, our bodies are capable of some truly awesome stuff. So really, there is no shame in enjoying sex.

But of course, now sex has become a performance. Jezebel had a great piece about skin mags in Britain that talks about the pornification of sex. In it, author Natasha Walters observes “sex was now seen much more as a kind of performance rather than the intimacy and communication and emotional experience that it was once seen as, and I think that’s clearly tied in to the rise of pornography.” Now, as Anna, the author at Jezebel, notes, sex isn’t necessarily about intimacy and communication and emotions (and it doesn’t need to be), but it shouldn’t really be a performance. Real life sexual encounters and porn are two different things. The “pornification” of sex is getting ridiculous (no, really. If I was more into sharing my personal life, I’d have some stories!) and it’s leaking into the ability of people to have healthy, enjoyable sex lives.

I’m not saying it’s not fun to smack the occasional ass, pull some hair, shove up her skirt and go at it doggie style on the kitchen counter (because it’s fun. It’s really fun). However, porn is about sex LOOKING interesting. Sex is about sex ACTING interesting. Like with fancy shoes, just because it looks good doesn’t mean it feels good.

There was an article a while back on Salon that I just never get tired of linking: How Not To Make Love Like a Porn Star. I laugh so hard every time I read it, and I just keep coming back to it because it just keeps being true.

But I will conclude (because I’ve been working on this entry too long and really need to get to class) with the simple question of: how do you make it work? How do you own your sexuality and get what you want in bed without having to deal with enormous fallout from the social implications? How do you have a satisfying dating life without being a passive receptacle? How can you be a force for positive change in the dating paradigm without being so over the top that you lose people’s attention? It’s easy to be sexually aggressive, get what you want, etc, but if you’re too overwhelming, you get branded a “slut” and no one will listen. It’s frustrating and ridiculous, but there we have it.

I’m passionate about the concept of “every day feminism” and making how you live your life and conduct yourself in everyday ways be little acts of feminism. Live your dissent! So, it seems to go without saying to me that how I date, engage in relationships, and have sex absolutely must be informed by my feminism (thank god I’m nowhere near worrying about cohabiting or marriage, because that’s yet another can of worms that I occasionally reflect on, and then pretty much go into the fetal position from feeling overwhelmed). But how do I balance my personal feminism with the ability to make feminism more accessible? Teaching and opening minds is quite possibly one of the single most important things in my world (oops, is my grad school showing?) and I recognize that sometimes in order to bridge gaps, you must compromise. How does one achieve balance?

All that said, I’m glad that I live in a time when my concerns about dating and sex are how to balance them with my feminism. We don’t live in a golden age of women’s lib or anything, but I’m still glad that we’ve come far enough that I even have the option to worry about how to conduct my sexual relationships (that do not need to involve marriage) and so on. “How do I best live my feminism?” is the kind of pretty awesome problem that I’m okay with having to work with.

02/25/2010. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. 2 comments.

In praise of feminist sex shops.

If there is one thing that I think MOST people can agree on, it’s that orgasms are awesome. Yay for orgasms! However, in our wonderfully open-minded culture where the virgin/whore dichotomy rages on, fetishization of youth is rampant, there’s constant perpetuation of the purity myth, and sexual education is downright wrong, it’s hard to visualize healthy sexualities just blossoming left and right. This is one case in which shit, it turns out, is not a good fertilizer.

So I would like to take a moment to praise feminist sex shops. When one thinks “sex shop,” generally the idea is porn store–sketchy, dirty, dimly lit, lots of business men in overcoats trying not to be seen with whatever smut they are buying. Whenever I think of porn shops, I think of that scene in Amelie where Nino is tagging prices on these giant, ridiculous dildos and there’s all the fetishwear in the background and the awful thumping porno groove soundtrack. It’s not to say that fetishwear is bad (I’d be a shitty feminist if I couldn’t respect that Your Kink Is OK), but that your typical sex shop is all about making sex itself into a fetish. It’s dirty and weird, and requires these vinyl garments. Also, check out them huge-ass fake penises–boys, if you weren’t already insecure about how much heat you’re packing, now is the time to start.

And then there’s the woman-friendly shops–a completely different world. My personal favorite is Babeland, which I visit every time I’m in NYC (I like the LES location, though they also have one in SoHo and others around the country. I’m still rooting for one in Boston!). The store is well-lit with vibrant colors, huge windows in the front, and shameless slogans across the windows. They have a mind-boggling assortment of vibrators, all out on central tables so you can hold them against your palm and give them a try. They have a condom bar that looks like a candy shop–shelves of jars full of all kinds of condoms, with commentary provided! Lubes, massage oils, anything you could need for your kink, and shelves of books (with my bookworminess, how could I not love it?). The staff are fan-fucking-tastic. I bought my first vibrator from them years ago and I swear it was a life-changing experience. Their open attitudes and no-shame approach make clientele instantly comfortable, and they are fountains of knowledge on safe sex practices and good health. The sexual health educator in me is suffused with a warm fuzzy glow everytime I listen to them. Anyone can enter the store and be shown a supportive environment to explore their sexuality.

I think of women having access to sex shops as being almost on par with access to birth control as far as sexual liberation goes. While birth control gives a woman the freedom to do what she wants with her body as far as it interacts with other people, sex shops give a woman the freedom to do what she wants with her body with, well, herself. It is important for a woman to be able to own her sexuality–to know what she likes, how her body responds, how to achieve orgasm, and also what doesn’t work for her. It’s hard to do that with someone else. Learning on your own, and developing that kind of relationship with your own sexuality, is in my mind a huge part of being liberated. Basically, it’s hard to keep subscribing to the idea that your body is dirty and shameful and your sexuality is bad when you have concrete knowledge to the contrary.

Plus, baby Jesus never said no vibrators until marriage, so if you’re waiting, a visit to your local sex shop can solve all those pesky libido problems that are so prevalent amongst, well, humanity. 😉 Also, orgasms are great stress relief and make you happy person. Who doesn’t want to be happy?

Over at the fabulous VaginaPagina, they’ve compiled a small list of woman-friendly sex shops. Check it out!

And now, because it’s never a bad time to rock out, here’s a song from French artist Yelle, who wrote a love song to her vibrator:

Confession: this entry technically isn’t what I added the “magic vaginas” tag for, but let’s face it–it’s a great tag! I really just wanted to use it again so that it would become a little bigger over in the tag cloud. 😀

04/06/2009. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Once again, sex–with a condom, with a magic vagina, with a fatty, or just not at all.

Oh hai internets. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Well, I’m back. And, as ever, I’m talking about sex.

Specifically, how we need to get our heads out of our collective asses and be a little smarter about it.

It seems like lately I’ve been embroiled in a lot of discussion about sex. First there was that really special comment from the pope about how condoms won’t help solve the AIDS problem in Africa (o rly? plz to be sharing with me your brilliant answer, Mister Popeman–and don’t you dare say Jesus!). I think what made that extra special is that when I commented on that in my personal LiveJournal, people responded to it with the idea that I should be used to this, that I should just shrug it off because it will never change and that I really ought to expect it of the pope by now.

Just because I expect it and I am used to it doesn’t make it any less infuriating or any less important of a public health issue. Condoms save lives in very real and important ways. When people claim that condoms should not be promoted because it promotes having sex, I have to call bullshit. My response: “The problem is that saying condoms promote sex is a fallacy, no more than wearing seat belts promotes reckless driving or purchasing homeowners insurance promotes leaving your doors and windows open and unlocked when you leave.” Condoms are not flawlessly reliable, they are not some magical panacea for all the ills of the developing world. However, to say that because they allow people to get it on now and again with less risk means that we are promoting sex and that AIDS will spread? That is bullshit. And anyways, sex promotes itself just fine. Biology took care of that one. We don’t need latex to help out.

Next there was the Manic Pixie Dream Girl article. Let’s steer clear of what films were selected for the article because I do not agree with many of them. The premise of the article, however, is very valid: in an absurd number of films (particularly self-reflective indie flicks as of late) the protagonist is a homely, awkward, depressed and stifled young man. He finds his salvation between the thighs of a beautiful, quirky, free-spirited woman who liberates him through her magical vagina and all of its live-giving powers.

I don’t even know what to say to that. I mean, vaginas are pretty cool, don’t get me wrong. But it seems that sex–usually with a woman who would be classed “way out of his league” by stereotypical measures–is all it takes to solve the problems of these “complex” men. The girls are caricatures at best, tropes exacerbated into the worst state of two-dimensional utility. They exist as vessels that carry their vaginas through the world to deliver salvation-via-splooge to the protagonist. She is the quintessential example of Simone de Beauvoir’s analysis of the female as other, serving as a mirror into which the male may gaze and discover himself. It is through his interactions with her that he achieves agency and self-realization; my god, movies, could you get anymore 1950s?

I dunno. I liked the article because the MPDG trope is one that I’ve been subconsciously noticing and wincing about for a while now–I’m glad someone could put it into words better than I could.

Moving on, following hot on the heels of that was the truly glorious article on what to do if your girlfriend starts getting love handles. I think I’ve pretty much blown my load (LOL GUYS!!!1!) on this one already, and really, it speaks for itself.

For those of you who have read this far, here’s the reward for you to reap: two Princeton professors bemoan the horrors of collegiate sex. Thank god professors at a top notch school are so open-minded and rational about something that should be such a non-issue. …Oh, wait. Crap.
Basically, these guys are pretty horrified by late teens/early twenties students getting it on. Therefore, Princeton ought to have a “Purity Center” for students who want to live “honorably.” Because everyone knows that if you aren’t a virgin, you’re a goddamn filthy horrifying disgusting tainted and worthless whore. A WHORE, I say! Do you hear me? Do I need to shake my fist at you? Don’t think I won’t wave this Bible!

…Ah, yes, a nurturing environment for over-stressed college kids. I can see it already.
Never mind referring to a women’s center or an LGBT center as “ideological groups” (cause being a woman ain’t just my biology, baby, it’s my philosophy!) or claiming that Princeton should provide a paid full-time staff… The over all attitude of shaming, and particularly finger-pointing at women, is ridiculous. I don’t feel that surprised when I see things like this coming out of Bob Jones U or Deep South Religious Right R Us, but this is Princeton. This is supposed to be a bastion of education, reflection, and reason. Mostly, I’m just saddened and disappointed.

Coming soon: rape–myth or reality? (You’d be surprised who thinks the former!), sexual violence and the military from a handful of different perspectives, and up-skirt photography–because you didn’t need another reason to feel sketched out by that dude in the checkout line who just keeps getting a bit too close and tying his shoes.
Till next time (and may it be a sooner next time than last time).

03/27/2009. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.