Hold me closer, tiny dancer! Or: I’m sick of being nice.

So here’s a delightful story that has made my afternoon: in Ohio, strippers are protesting outside a church because they are sick of the church protesting outside of the club.

Fuck yes.

Look, I don’t have anything against religion. Hell, I myself grew up in a Christian family and am confirmed (I gave a speech about pie). Christians really aren’t bad people or jerks or anything. It’s just that there’s this little bundle of them who give the rest a bad name (this stands, in fact, for all religions. For the most part, they’re just nice folk and then there’s that small clique of asshats that goes and fucks it up for everyone else).

I am so delighted to see the tables being turned. Fuck turning the other cheek. Fuck being nice. Fuck being shamed into being silent through bullshit just because if you speak up, you’re somehow validating the other party’s bullshit claim.

Having a spine and defending yourself is good. But somehow, we constantly get shamed into apologizing when we try to defend ourselves, shamed into keeping quiet instead of “making a big deal” or making mountains out of molehills.

But if mountains are being made, they are not our mountains. They weren’t our molehills to begin with.

I’m sick of being nice and tolerating bullshit just to keep other people from getting uncomfortable. I am too busy and stressed out and strung out to deal with flagrant, narrow-minded jackassery.

I was at a friend’s birthday party Saturday night when a dude laid down the claim that women can’t drive. I rolled my eyes and said “Oh please. You have got to be kidding.” He insisted no, he was serious. He asked another couple guys standing nearby to back him up; they wisely dodged the question. I asked him what weight of oil his car takes. He said he has no idea; that’s what mechanics are for. I went on my oil rant. I asked him what double clutching is and why it’s relevant. I asked him what it means to turn into a spin and why. He had no answers. I walked out of the room.

Later, he came into the room and tried to explain that he is the way he is because WAAAAHHHH. He took a women’s studies course in college and he was one of three guys in the room of fifteen women. Two of the guys were dating girls in the class. He felt like his ideas and input weren’t valued and it was really hard for him. So he turned misogynistic; it’s not his fault, that class made him that way.

OH GOLLY WHAT ABOUT THE MENS.

Motherfucker, if I have to listen to another fucking sob story of when some dude took a women’s studies class and wasn’t celebrated for it, I am going to turn all misandrist.

It’s not my fault; your idiocy made me that way.

Seriously, if I were to walk around saying that I had a really hard time when I took a computer science class because I was one of three women in a class of fifteen guys and the other two girls were dating guys in the class so I felt invalidated and shunned, PEOPLE WOULD FUCKING LAUGH. They would tell me to stop being so sensitive and irrational and that maybe I was ignored and invalidated because I didn’t have anything to contribute because I wasn’t smart enough and what was I doing in a computer science class anyways?

I managed to resist whining, “Oh waaaaaahhhh the poor mens! It is tough being an upper middle class white dude in college!” but only just barely. I held back because I didn’t want to be THAT BITCH that makes the room uncomfortable. That crazy feminist.

You know, the honest person.

The dancers and club owner out in Ohio? Fucking fuck yeah to them for not letting themselves get silenced by not wanting to be the person that makes things uncomfortable.

They have absolutely pushed some boundaries and made people uncomfortable. It takes a lot of bravery to be in a line of work that carries as much social stigma as stripping does and to then turn the tables on people trying to kick sand in your eyes.

That’s fucking awesome. Those ladies rock.

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08/09/2010. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Sexy Geekery

Oh my great garbanzo, friends and internets. My summer class has started (that is to say, 20 hours a week of class, 30 hours a week of work (I’m just slicing off 5 and calling it sick time), and countless hours of homework) and I am OVERWHELMED. However, my field experience starts next week, so at the very least, I will be able to start providing you with some interesting reflections on public summer school here in Boston. Later in the summer, I’ll also be serving as a [paid!!] teaching assistant for another BPS summer school program, so brace yourselves. This blog is about to take a decidedly scholastic bent.

Till then, here’s a brief snippet to hold you over. I haven’t even had time to open my Google reader in days, but luckily, I have friends who send me links to the rad stuff that I am missing. This particular gem of an article comes from Dave, who writes over at the BARCC blog. You should check it out, and drop BARCC a donation nugget while you’re there.

Anyways, The Sexist has a great interview with awesome ladyblogger Courtney Stoker (who you can bet I’ll be checking up on in the coming days! Err, maybe “weeks”) all about being a lady geek.

I’ve alluded to my geekery before, and I’ve started and discarded about fifty billion posts on feminism and cosplay and the deep schism within me re: feminism and cosplay. I love cosplay, I love geekdom, I love D&D and comic books and videogames and hugging stormtroopers. I have costumes that are arguably “sexified” costumes.

As she says,

This is where some geek women find their acceptable place in geek communities, because even the most sexist of geek men is going to be okay with women being around as long as they’re dressed up like sex objects. Too often, women in geek cultures are only welcomed if they are decoration, sexy versions of the the things geek men love, not equal participants or fellow fans.

It stings a little because it’s true. I’ve felt that way over and over. I notice, consistently, the difference in reception I get between the variety of costumes I wear–the more skin I show, the more likely that people will be enthusiastic to see me, no matter how high quality any other costume may be. I’m consistently discouraged from doing non-sexy costumes, let alone engaging in crossplay (cosplaying a character that is of the opposite sex) without transforming it into a “femme” version.

I have a big long rant about this, and I’m sorry I don’t have the time or energy to write it up, as this is a highly nuanced issue, and my above paragraph makes it sound very black and white, and makes geek dudes sound way worse than they are.

The issue is something that Courtney mentions–can any of this be reclaiming of female sexuality and femininity, which is pretty much not allowed to exist on its own terms in scifi? I feel like the opportunity is there. Women can be sexual, and even in a “mainstream sexy” kind of way, on their own terms. It’s so hard to define so much of this, though–where are we are genuinely enjoying this, and where are we enjoying the attention? (Because yes, attention can be fun.) I find this relevant because it’s an issue I have when dating–I have often considered punching a boy in the jaw for pushing too hard for me to buy “sexy” undergarments, even though it so happens that black lacy skivvies delight me. Just, like, let me buy them on my own terms, dude. Do I feel hypocritical? Sure. Does it change the fact that one motivation (and often different shopping location) makes me feel skeezy, while the other doesn’t. Likewise, can one girl wear the same costume and feel both of those feelings? Of course. Can two girls wear the exact same costume and one be motivated by feminism and the other by self-objectification? I don’t see why not. Does this become a tangled mess of how do we define and how do we express? Oh fuck yes.

Cause part of me doesn’t give a rat’s ass how much we can discuss the woman-power of Princess Leia saving Han and then choking the shit out of Jabba, it doesn’t change the fact that wearing the metal bikini is gonna get you objectified. But… I love that woman-power side of Leia. I love the brazen courage it takes to wear that freaking bikini. But…

But but but. Even my non-overtly feminist friends seem to deal with the same but-but-buts when we talk of being girlgeeks. Sometimes it just seems easier to settle for being an object than to get driven out of fandom. Sometimes, you even internalize it.

Read the interview. Courtney Stoker is an exceptionally well-spoken lady who makes some awesome points, and I cannot wait to read more of her stuff. Check out her blog here: http://austintotamu.blogspot.com/

06/29/2010. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

On Policing Your Own Womb

So, here’s a thing–what if birth control, like the pill or what-have-you, was available over the counter?

It’s an interesting thought. I come at it from many angles, but ultimately, I have to go with “oh hells to the yes, yes please!”

First, let me review my concerns. I worry about the effects of hormones on women (as I’ve written before about my issues with HBC) and all the side effects that they might not be expecting without a doctor warning them. I worry about women picking the wrong birth control without experimenting with different choices. I worry about women getting on birth control and then throwing condom use to the wind. I worry that with access to birth control over the counter, women will stop going to the doctor without needing to get their prescription refilled.

Well, to be honest, so few doctors really chat up their patients about the side effects of birth control, and I hear all too often about doctors being unable to try different kinds for a patient who is suffering severe side effects. If it’s broke, fix it! But I hear constantly about problems with doctors who are not supportive and informative and helpful (for the record, I have been incredibly lucky to have an AMAZING gynecologist, so my early GYN experiences were all fantastic, or at least fantastic as such things can be. Now that I’ve been on a different insurance plan for the last three years, I miss my GYN and the office staff so very much–they were truly gems. If you’re in the southwestern Connecticut area, I cannot recommend enough that you check out The Center for Women’s Health in Stamford). So, to be honest, I don’t actually think that the majority of women will be missing out on that much by not having to go through a doctor. Sure, there’s cases of awesome-sauce doctors and nurses, but it’s just not the majority. Most women would probably do better researching on their own.

Because of that, I DO worry that women will stop going to the doctor. I myself haven’t gone in several years, because I am so utterly unenthused about my new PCP and GYN now that I’m on my work insurance (it blows, btw). Since I have an IUD, I don’t need to get a prescription refilled. I’m sure that there are better women than I out there, but there’s a lot of women that hate going to doctors, especially ladypart doctors. I have friends who, due to not being sexually active, have never had a pap smear in their life, or have only had one. While I am not a bastion of righteousness in this, as I am guilty too, ladies gotta see doctors. I do NOT like the idea of using access to birth control as a way to enforce it, though. I think doctors shaping up and providing better experiences to their clients would be nice. (Again, man do I miss the Center for Women’s Health!)

I worry that access to birth control will stop women from using condoms, but you know what? I think that’s unfounded. Women who aren’t going to use condoms probably won’t use them regardless of whether or not they’re on birth control, and even with doctor warnings and office visits, a lot of women who go on birth control get rid of condoms nonetheless. Safe sex is something we have to make into a cultural norm, widely supported, and taught in schools. It’s something that the male partner should also be participating in–just because a woman is on birth control doesn’t mean that a dude should immediately try to dodge wearing a rubber, y’know? The impetus is on both parties, since both are at risk. This is an issue unrelated to birth control, rather, I simply worry that easy access to birth control would make the problems our society currently has that much worse. However, that’s foolish, to restrict something on account of fear, particularly when the problem is only tangentially related.

Moving past fears, I think this would absolutely be a step in the right direction for sexual health and reproductive freedom.

When you get right down to it, it is stupid that if I wanted to go on the pill, I would have to go ask someone else for permission.

This is not an addictive drug. It cannot be used for recreation purpose. It is not, when you get right down to it, a controlled substance. A much more intense form, Plan B, is already available over the counter. Why is it that we can only get the emergency option, that generally really fucks with a woman’s body? Why can’t we just have access to regular, routine, preventative options without having to jump through hoops, potentially have to search for a non-judgmental doctor, etc?

This is no different than any other simple medication. Aspirin is more dangerous the birth control pill!

Why is it that we are not allowed to select for ourselves how to manage our reproduction? Men can buy condoms (hell, women can too). Why can’t we buy the pill?

As I’ve written before, I’d love to see less emphasis on hormonal birth control, but that’s my personal politics. It is far more important to me that women have many options, and access to the full range of them, than that they adhere to my politics. They can decide for themselves how they want to manage their bodies. But first, they need to be allowed to decide for themselves.

06/23/2010. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

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.

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

What “Sex Education” Should Really Mean

Hey guys, guess what? I’m thinking about sex! I know, you are so totally surprised. Don’t worry, hugs will be distributed at the door.

What I’m really thinking about is virginity. The brilliant ladies of The Sexist and Tiger Beatdown did a great chat about virginity on Friday. And yesterday, I missed a rethinking virginity event right here in Cambridge! Which had drinkable water, unlike my office in Boston! This is like a double-decker sammich of disappointment that I was not able to attend! So man, I am thinking about virginity like nobody’s business at this point.

Rumor has it, I once had a virginity of my very own. These were in the dark days, when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Since then, I’ve frolicked with all kinds of genitals belonging to all sorts of people and Lo, It Has Been Good. Not all of it, of course. In fact, I went through YEARS of considering sex to be something akin to a chore–“I mean gosh, this boy is my boyfriend and I guess since we did that thing with the sexytimes once, I’m pretty much obligated to just keep on going.” So, you know, I kept on going.

And here’s the thing–there is so totally nothing wrong with that. For a while, I had my share of anger toward that fellow, let us call him My First Boyfriend (for that is what he was), but that’s misdirected anger. The dude was just doing what he thought he was supposed to do, and I was doing what I thought I was supposed to do, and it’s not like either of us legitimately had any clue what our penises and vaginas should do when working in tandem, or really what they could do. I mean, we had watched porn he downloaded off the internet, and we used condoms, so I guess we weren’t doing too badly, but that’s really about it. I had no concept of the fact that I could enjoy sex or what that might mean, and I certainly had no concept that at any point I could have said, “Hey, you know, it turns out that I thought I was ready for sex, but I’m actually not. I think we need to stop having it and go back to waiting.”

This is not a sob fest–like I said, I’m not upset at him, and I’ve forgiven my adolescent self for being a bit silly. What I’m upset about is the lack of proper sex ed.

Sex ed isn’t just about knowing to put a pretty wacky dunce hat on the dude’s peenor before you start waggling it where the sun don’t shine. If you’re super lucky, someone will mention lube. The clitoris might be discussed in a purely anatomical sense (“This here body part doesn’t actually serve any purpose, kind of like your tonsils. Also like the tonsils, your girlfriend will make some really neat noises if you poke her there!”). And dudes? I’m sorry, but you don’t even get a nod to your erogenous zones.

But beyond the concept of the clinically sexy parts of sexytimes, sex ed should be covering the emotional side of sex. Abstinence is actually a great fucking idea when the idea is wait until you are ready. For some people, that’s marriage. For some people, that’s in the back of a Ford Taurus on the first date. For most people, it’s somewhere between those two extremes. But the point is, when you’re having sex as a fully consenting, entirely ready, emotionally prepared individual who understands what’s involved then you’re going to have safe, healthy sex (for the most part. Ain’t nothin’ perfect in this world).

So that’s what I mean when I say that I didn’t understand that I could’ve had any sway over my early sexual encounters.

Sady puts it brilliantly in the chat:

I had been taught “don’t have sex,” and I had been taught about the importance of putting a little rubber outfit on his apparatus if I ever DID have sex. But what I had NEVER been taught, apparently, was how to respect what I wanted, and to ask for it, and how to say “no” if I did NOT want something he wanted. I mean, I didn’t even know how to say “ow” or “yikes.” My impression was that one could Have Sex or Not Have Sex, and so my first few experiences were like, “oh, so apparently sex is AWFUL? It seems weird that people are so into it! But, OK! I am Having Sex!”

As rational, sexually literate adults at this point in our lives, it’s easy to look at that and go “Pfft! Everyone knows that they can say ‘ow ‘ or ‘yikes’ or that actually, they’re NOT ready for sex. I mean, c’mon!” And then I think about it for a little while, and I think about how nervous I can even get with new partners NOW, let alone a decade ago, and it occurs to me that no, I couldn’t have said any of those things. I didn’t grasp that “ow” was a variable in sex–I figured that if it was hurting, it was because there was something wrong with me, and I didn’t think that we could fix it. Even if it could be fixed, I didn’t know how (and poor First Boyfriend didn’t know either). These days I know that if I go “ow!” I probably need to move my hips to adjust the angle, or grab a little lube or something.

Remember that part about how we watched porn from the internet? Dude, they don’t even use lube for BUTTSEX in porn. It’s just all “TA DA! Magical penis penetrates willing (and eerily hairless and colorless) ass and then everyone is MOANING and then HOLY SHIT MOTHERFUCKING MAYONNAISE EVERYWHERE!”

Did this confuse the hell out of me? Of course! Did I have anyone or anywhere to go to sort out this confusion and my fears? Most assuredly no!

The internet was fledgling in those days and I was mostly using it to play text-based roleplaying games and sometimes to read slashfic (which also doesn’t use lube for buttsex, in case you were wondering). My parents were not accessible sources of sexual information (though my dad took me to get birth control), and I was the first sexually active person in my social group so I didn’t have friends to turn to.

Later in life, I discovered women’s health forums online, I began reading books–both fiction and non–that broached the subject of female sexuality and female sexual pleasure, and I started to accumulate self-esteem. Almost six years after I had been having sex, I finally had my first orgasm alone, and that really changed things.

I’m not saying this is the experience everyone has, or that there’s necessarily a brilliant simple fix. However, reading the chat between Amanda and Sady was comforting–apparently, I am not the only one out there! Other people have weird and bizarre and sometimes unpleasant sexual experiences courtesy of the Big Hubbub surrounding virginity and the lack of really actually useful sex ed.

As Sady mentions, useful sex ed would not have changed who she (or I) decided to first sleep with. It probably wouldn’t have changed any number of Less Than Stellar And Brilliant mate selections I’ve made in my life. But it might’ve changed how I had sex with these people, and my ability to know what I wanted, that I could want something, and how to say no (or even “ow” or “yikes”).

Sex: It’s Really Not That Big Of A Deal.

So can we accept that, move on, and just do what we can to make sure that our kids and little siblings and younger friends and nieces and nephews and all those strangers out there in the world are not getting any more messed up over it? There are just such better things to be spazzing out over.

Like good looking people being in our proximity. As if sun, water, and the air trying to give us cancer wasn’t bad enough, now it’s official–the pretty people are trying to kill us all.

05/04/2010. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized. 2 comments.

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!

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.

“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.

Feminism and the Sex Trade

I am a bit torn on the sex trade. I’ve turned it over in my head many times and it is just yet another example of one of those things that I don’t think I know enough about to really have a definitive stance on. When I was younger, it was an easily concrete black-and-white issue of “sex trade bad!” Since then, though, I’ve grown up and had a lot of experiences that change things, including being friends with a former stripper (she now sells sex toys). As I’ve said time and again, experience is not monolithic, so what she has to say about being a stripper certainly doesn’t necessarily apply to every stripper, but talking to her has certainly opened my eyes.

Anyways, Iceland has banned all strip clubs, and the Guardian is headlining this as “Iceland: The world’s most feminist country.” I have a hard time sitting by and feeling comfortable with that statement.

It always irks me when people try to add the modifier “pro-sex” when I say I’m a feminist (“Oh, you’re a pro-sex feminist!”). First off, what the hell does that even mean? I know feminists who don’t necessarily agree with my views on sex, but they still like having it. It really bothers me that we are adding the “pro-sex” modifier because that means that being anti-sex is somehow the norm for feminists, and the whole anti-sex humorless man-hating hairy bra-burning feminist is a cultural trope I want to destroy. (For the record, my feminist friends are easily among some of the raunchiest, perviest people I know. We have fun.)

So, I dislike this idea that stamping out sexuality is a feminist victory. Stamping out unhealthy sexuality is a feminist victory, but I don’t think that getting rid of every strip club in Iceland is the answer. You can have healthy sex shows. That much I know. I doubt that every strip club is a bastion of empowered, happy, healthy women, but does that mean that getting rid of all of them is a solution? No, probably not.

I’m unfamiliar with Icelandic culture, so I cannot speak to what might play out there. But in the US, it doesn’t seem to me like it’s the presence of strip clubs that’s leading to women being commodified–that is a symptom. So even if all the strip clubs were shut down overnight, the commodification wouldn’t stop. Instead of purchasing access to look at a woman’s body legally, it will go underground, and that’s when it immediately becomes that much more dangerous, particularly for the women involved. Now it’s a lot harder for them to draw the line and say no to customers, because the customer has the leverage of the woman’s illegal activity to hold over her. It will be that much harder to get help from police. When strippers are harassed or raped, they already face a much harder time getting legal help or taken seriously; make them illegal and it will become quite nearly impossible.

You know what would be a feminist victory in my mind? If women could do what they want–be strippers if they want–without it being illegal, without getting judged, shamed, and scorned by the population, and without being blamed for any attacks they suffer. I would love for the same thing to apply to men, as well!

I had a brief discussion recently about why there are so few strip clubs that have men stripping (related: Nevada’s first male prostitute has quit his brothel after over two months, but only 10 clients) and so on. The initial knee-jerk response given was “well, women don’t want to pay to see men naked! Women aren’t wired like that/don’t have the same sex drive as men/aren’t as horny” and so on. I disagree with that. Women have libidos as well, and we like to look at naked men. However, it’s been socially programmed into everyone that women don’t want this and won’t pay for it, and if we do/would, we’re abnormal and inappropriate. So, the market has been neutered, essentially.

So to me, a feminist victory would be equal opportunity sex trade–anyone who wants to strut their stuff can, without recrimination. They will be provided with safe working conditions, health care, vacation time, etc. The social stigma will be removed. Their clients will treat them with respect and appreciation.

Sexuality is powerful, wonderful stuff. The more we make it illegal and shameful, the further we will have to go to achieve a state of healthy, happy sexuality.

P.S. Would you look at that! In the time it took me to write this, Feministing did a write-up that bludgeons mine into the ground. Go check it out!

03/29/2010. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

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