Saturday, May 31, 2008

Business of Being Born

I watched The Business of Being Born a few days ago (finally!) and I really recommend it.

I knew a lot of the information contained in it already, but especially the scenes of giving birth were eye opening for me (eye popping is more like it...). It gave me and my husband a lot to consider, if we ever decide to have children.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Was there any doubt?

How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a New Left Hipster, also known as a liberal, a Netroots activist, or a Daily Show fanatic. You believe that if we really want to defend American values, conservatives must be exposed, mocked, and assailed for every fanatical, puritanical, warmongering, Constitution-shredding ideal for which they stand.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Michelle Obama

Check out What Tami Said

It's a fucking awesome post about the recent and ever increasing racist misogyny targeting Michelle Obama. Like the awful picture I've seen posted in a couple places, but honestly didn't know wtf to say about it cuz... Well, yah, the conservatives are rather treating her, looking at her, this way, aren't they? And I gather the picture came from a post claiming as such. Of course that they ARE treating her this way is...disgusting...but...totally unsurprising.

It's times like this, where I'm sorta glad I don't have TV... I may be out of the loop, but it sure does limit how often I'm pissed off at the world!

Fuck you, Rachel Moss

So today I come across a post entitled; "What Rachel Moss Did" from the Angry Black Woman.

The short of it is, Rachel Moss went to a *Con I never heard of (but actually sounds entirely awesome) just to be able to write snarkily about it and say nasty shit about the panels and people who were there.

Check out the full story at ABW's place. And keep it classy Rachel!

Personal Experiences With the Pill

Via Feministing

Check out this author’s query from Elaine Tyler May, amazing feminist historian and big fan of feministing. (She’s the one who wrote feminist classic Homeward Bound, that I reviewed alongside Faludi last month.) Please, please take some time and respond!

The Pill is often considered one of the most important innovations of the twentieth century. As I investigate this claim for a new book—set for release on the 50th anniversary of the Pill’s FDA approval (Basic Books, 2010)—I’m looking to include the voices and stories of real people. I hope yours will be one of them. I’m eager to hear from men as well as women, of all ages and backgrounds.

Have you or any of your partners taken the Pill? Why or why not? How did it work for you—physically, emotionally, and ethically? How has it compared with other contraceptive methods you or your partners have used?

What has been the impact of the Pill on your sex life, relationships, political or social attitudes, and beliefs about the medical or pharmaceutical establishments?

Do you have opinions about public policies related to access, availability, approval or limitations on the development and distribution of the Pill and related contraceptive products (the patch, the “morning after pill,” long-term injections, etc.).

Anything else you think I should know?

Send me ( your most richly detailed answers to any and all of these questions (and don’t forget to include your age, gender, where you live, occupation, ethnic/religious/racial background, sexual orientation, marital status, political party affiliation, or any other biographical info you think is important).

If you would like to participate in my study but would prefer to respond to a questionnaire, please let me know and I will happily send you one.

I’m interested in hearing from men and women who have used the Pill and those who have not, those who used it briefly or a long time ago, or who use it now. I am also eager to hear from people who work in fields that relate to the use and availability of the Pill (such as medicine, public health, social work, education, etc.). You will remain anonymous. I will use your contact information only to respond to you directly and to let you know when the book will be available for purchase (at a discount to contributors!).

And just one more thing. I not only want to hear your voice, but the voices of those you love, teach, preach to, learn from, and work with. Please pass this request on! The more responses I receive, and the greater the diversity of respondents, the more the book will reflect the wide range of experiences and attitudes that have shaped the Pill’s history over the last half century.

Thanks very much!
Elaine Tyler May

Elaine Tyler May grew up in Los Angeles and now teaches at the University of Minnesota. She was twelve years old in 1960 when the Pill was approved by the FDA. Although not yet old enough for the event to have any personal significance for her, she was already interested in the subject because her father was one of the clinical researchers who helped develop the Pill, and her mother was a founder of free birth control clinics in Los Angeles. In spite of her later efforts at responsible use of contraception, she is the mother of three offspring.

Sounds very interesting, I will definitely be contributing.

Hell Graph

Nice. Thanks Feministing.

Listening to: Foxboro Hottubs - Dark Side of Night

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


I struggle still with liking Spike.

And when I say liking, I mean I have had sex dreams about him. And as a rule I generally have incredibly nonsensical, random, abstract dreams. For me to have anything remotely coherent is rare enough. To have an actual sex dream, where I GET to the sex or some sort of sexual activity, has only happened a couple times that I can remember.

And at least twice were dreams about Spike.

At least I'm not alone in this. He seems to be well loved amongst us women folk. And James Marsters himself seems an awesome guy.

But Spike...

God damn there are things I hate about him.

If I watch Buffy again, all the seasons he is in, from start to finish, in another year? I don't know if I will like him still. I just don't know. And that makes me really sad. Afraid to go back and watch again. Because fantasies are fun, and he makes for an excellent one.

What is it about playing with fire?

Because you know, that's what he is. Pure, destructive, amoral, predator. An elemental force.

What is it about craving that? About wanting a piece of it? Desiring to control it? Or to know you can't possibly control it but deluding yourself that you could? The fantasy that you have subdued him, tamed him, for the moment?

Or is it that you know you have no control, he is what he is and is only subdued because he chooses to be?

Is that what we really like? The fantasy that such a creature, such a man, could choose to subdue himself for us? Before our own power? Or do we simply want to be consumed by that force?

There is definitely some complex psychological stuff going on underneath attractions and fantasies...

Monday, May 26, 2008

Impatient White Men

I had an interesting experience this evening.

So I was closing the Deli and these two regulars (black ladies) come in. And I'm bullshitting with them and they're deciding what they want to get and as I go to get the first thing they decide on this older white guy comes up all in a rush and says "can I get some mustard?"

I literally stop, spoon in hand, half leaned in to the salad case, give him a small polite smile and say "Just a second, sir" and go back to what I was doing. The ladies ask to sample something, so I get that for them and say "I'll be right back" and go grab him his mustard. I then proceed to mix up the ladies order a little bit. I laugh and shake my head and go "that guy screwed my groove all up". One of the ladies says "Oh, the mustard?" I say, "Yah, damned white guys are SO impatient!" They both laugh and I say "Seriously, it was like I could see his foot tapping from here! He's lucky I was so nice to him" and the same lady says "Yah, he was lucky I am in such a good mood, acting like we weren't even here!"

And I took a second when she said that, because the scenario flashed back through my head and I recalled the way in which he approached and asked me for help and it was just SO TRUE. He did act just like they weren't even there. I said something along the lines of "I know, right?!" and we laughed it off and shook our heads and said some pleasantries and they were off to shop.

It felt good that I caught his behavior, didn't jump to help him (I might have when I was starting out in customer service, when people come up to you with that sort of energy it's easy to want to) and could commiserate with my regulars. I felt like an Ally for a second.

But it also hit home in another way, because I am very guilty of impatience often enough, of feeling like my circumstances are unique enough that I should get a pass or get to move to the front of the line. And really considering how I came to be that way, privilege has got to play a part. I need to keep that in mind next time I start feeling entitled to special treatment.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Anti-Sex Work Feminism and Objectification

The language we use to talk about sex work (and the metaphorical extensions of sex-work related words) emphasizes this point - by charging a fee to have sex with someone, a woman has sold her body and herself. Linguistically speaking, there’s a metonymy there - the “part” (sexuality) has come to substitute for the whole woman.

Read more.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

To the subscribers

Hi there!

I know there are a few of you out there.

And as I clicked through my own daily Google Reader, reading, it occurred to me...

Do you know that I have a handy "Shared Items" widget here on my blog?

I do! :D

As I read things I think will interest, I click to share them, and they pop up here.

Here's what's up from today:

* Grist Feature: Why the Everglades is burning, and...
from Grist Magazine
* New ‘Love Guru’ trailer
from Ultrabrown
* Justice Rots in the Refrigerator Unserved and Stinking
from Problem Chylde: In Her Solitude
* Six Radical Politics Buttons
from Feminist Review
* Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for...
from Feminist Review
* Sexism, Chivalry, and POC communities
from The Angry Black Woman
* Remembering Zelma Henderson...
from AngryBlackBitch
* Divided by a common language
from Trans Group Blog
* The Boys' Crisis is BUNK
from Viva La Feminista
* Good Lord....
from Uncool

It's sort of a neat feature, you can click it to see what else there is. But perhaps I will start one of these linking posts weekly or something...

Thanks a lot Caroline

I have discovered Tumblr

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

And then I die

Foxboro Hottubs played a show in Oakland last Thursday. I have Thursdays off. I could have gone. But I didn't know. I always find out about these goddamned secret shows a few days after I needed to buy tickets or it already happened.

20 bucks to see Green Day with this kickass side project in a small club.

Kill me now.

Listening to: Foxboro Hottubs - Red Tide

Monday, May 19, 2008

Our mission is overwhelming

I had the realization today how unbelievably fucking overwhelming my mission in life is.

Even working together, my gods, how many minds have to change, how fundamentally do we have to change how people interact with and look at the world?


Our worth not determined by how sexually useful we are to straight men.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

CA Courts Are Awesome


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The California Supreme Court overturned a voter-approved gay marriage ban Thursday in a ruling that would make the nation's largest state the second one to allow gay and lesbian weddings.

The justices released the 4-3 decision, saying that domestic partnerships are not a good enough substitute for marriage in an opinion written by Chief Justice Ron George. Justices Joyce Kennard, Kathryn Werdegar and Carlos Moreno joined the majority.

Outside the courthouse, gay marriage supporters cried and cheered as news spread of the decision.

In striking down the ban, the court said, "In contrast to earlier times, our state now recognizes that an individual's capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual's sexual orientation, and, more generally, that an individual's sexual orientation -- like a person's race or gender -- does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights."

While agreeing with many arguments of the majority, Justice Marvin Baxter said in a dissenting opinion that the high court overstepped its authority. Changes to marriage laws should be decided by the voters, Baxter wrote. Justices Ming Chin and Carol Corrigan joined in dissenting.

The cases were brought by the city of San Francisco, two dozen gay and lesbian couples, Equality California and another gay rights group in March 2004 after the court halted San Francisco's monthlong same-sex wedding march that took place at Mayor Gavin Newsom's direction.

"Today the California Supreme Court took a giant leap to ensure that everybody -- not just in the state of California, but throughout the country -- will have equal treatment under the law," said City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who argued the case for San Francisco.

The challenge for gay rights advocates, however, is not over.

A coalition of religious and social conservative groups is attempting to put a measure on the November ballot that would enshrine laws banning gay marriage in the state constitution.

The Secretary of State is expected to rule by the end of June whether the sponsors gathered enough signatures to qualify the marriage amendment, similar to ones enacted in 26 other states.

If voters pass the measure in November, it would overrule the court decision.

Sadly, it's not over yet.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Third Feminist Carnival of Sexual Freedom and Autonomy

Welcome to the Third Feminist Carnival of Sexual Freedom and Autonomy! I am thrilled to bring you this edition, with posts gathered from across the blogoverse. For those who submitted, thank you very much. For Lina, would have had a much more difficult time without you. And for those who I found, thank you for doing what you do.

Now, onto the show.

On That Sex Positive Approach to Sex and Feminism

The Intersection of Radical and Sex Positive Feminisms

Radical feminism has taught me that women have the capacity to see and to understand and to analyze our lives and our surroundings and our decisions and our situations. If we can do these things, surely we can explore the light and the darkness of our sexualities with full cognizance. And THAT is what sex positivity is. That is it EXACTLY.

5 Tips For Hot Menstrual Sex

So, you've decided that you're going to have period sex - no, not the kind where you dress up in period costumes and then bang underneath your bustle, but the kind where the lady is menstruating. Yay for you! Here are some tips for an optimal experience.

Sex Radicalism, Sex Positivism, and the Whore Stigma

Sex radicalism is also profoundly feminist, and with good reason. While many men are oppressed (in reality or potentially) for their sexual desires and practices, women are encouraged to never explore or experience sexual feelings in the first place. We are supposed to exist sexually within a (married, monogamous) relationship with a man, or else not at all. When we do step across the boundaries of compulsory heterosexuality and “good girl” propriety, we are often treated viciously. Women need each other’s support (although we do not always get it) to navigate the rough waters of living nontraditional sexual lives. Mainstream feminists learned this lesson from lesbians, who would not withdraw their demand for support from feminist organizations and institutions; it has not, however, extrapolated what it has learned to women elsewhere on the sexual fringe.

The Challenge of Entitlement

Now bring this entitlement issue into the BDSM world. I find that the place where most dominants mess up, when they do, is exactly in this realm. It’s as though a lot of people figure “I’m dominant, they’re submissive, of course I’m entitled,” without stopping to think about how a person’s role in kink does not on its own constitute permission or invitation for just anyone to take up that entitlement.

Celebrating Masturbation Month!

For those of you who may have been chilling out under a rock for the past 10 days, MAY is MASTURBATION month!

Why Not Go Straight For the Spoon?

It's just *so "no-sex" class! Why not "sell" the woman on giving direct pleasure? Or using the spoon to give herself *real* orgasms?** Or if that's too racy or presumptuous how about just eating the flipping dessert?

Sex and Identity

Lately I have been having this strange feeling like the blog and the experiences and the ongoing communications with others is "re-wiring" me. This can be a pretty strange and scary feeling. There is a feeling of "oh shit, I can't turn back now. The door won't close." Similar to trauma or any other significant experience, it is re-shaping my brain and my body. For some reason I seem to feel most aware of this when I first wake up. The first feelings seem to be "Who am I? What am I doing?"

I'll have dreams of being cornered and threatened by a bear. I'll wake up and think with dread, this is exactly what I'm doing. I'm poking at this bear and it has woken up. All this power and energy, it could be a good thing or it could be a dangerous thing. Is it supposed to be dormant? Should it have never woken up?

On Sex Work(ers) and the Tragic Death of Deborah Jeane Palfrey

Rescue, Respect, Refuge

Humans trafficked for sex do not have the capacity to exert power. They do not have agency. Children do not have agency. A woman who is pimped, forced to go out on the street, forced to give her money to the pimp, doesn’t have agency. Addiction can take away agency. Poverty can take away agency. Injustice can take away agency.

But there are many sex workers out there that do have agency.

I Am Dressed To Kill

I am also, as always, conflicted. As a women with radical feminist politics, this is the one area where I diverge from the dominant opinions of that group. I am constantly evaluating how I can be a truly feminist sex worker. For me that question of feminist integrity matters more than how to be a safe sex worker, a high paid sex worker, or anything else. My integrity is the most important thing, and I never do anything with a john that I wouldn't do by my own choice.

To Whore, or Not to Whore

I loved living on the edges...being outside society, the secrecy of knowing I was a whore amidst The Normal People. There was something inexplicably cool about being on a plane and knowing that here I was and no one knew that an outcast was in their outcast who was a good mother, a spiritual person, and honest person, a person with a BA in Religious Studies. They wouldn't have a clue by just looking at me. There's an imp inside me who loves to shock and I loved the paradoxes of my life. Being a whore fed my Inner Rebel, my Crazy Wisdom Coyote nature.

Abolition and the Saving of Sex Workers

The well-intentioned, misinformed, and even the righteous haters all proclaim to save us ~ sex workers and society itself ~ from the sin and abuses of sex work.

On one hand, there are the myths which blame the sex worker for taking ~ nay, making society run this path to ruin. Like the cliched woman who seduces a man away from his family & home, sex workers force uninterested citizens to fornicate. It would be silly if they weren't so loud & insistent in their claims to condemn the lives and livelihoods of those involved. The mere notion that "a sex worker is out there, somewhere" does not induce partaking of her services, nor even having sex in general.

An Open Letter

Dear Maggie Hays,

I read your comment on Witchy Woo's post (which, incidentally, appeared to be written with absolutely no ironic distance) with interest and I would like very much to take this opportunity to respond to a few points that really stood out for me; I feel it encompasses many of the criticisms against 'sex positive' feminists (also, I think it makes a little more sense to respond seriously to your comment than to Witchy's odd little post).

More On Palfrey and Feminism

I’ve said before that I don’t like to get all accusatory about “why haven’t you blogged about [X]??” because frankly it pisses me off when people do that to me. But I also think 1) there’s a difference between a personal blog and/or a blog run by one person, and a group blog centered around a specific topic (e.g., feminism); and 2) sometimes, in the case of the latter type of blog, the silence on particular issues speaks waaaay louder than words.

Another Call For Feminist/Sex Worker Solidarity

I think there’s this really complicated thing going on with feminist and sex worker perspectives on this. We all agree that we want to stop violence against women. But sex workers are still not treated as equals by many feminists. This is undermining both feminists and sex workers. The tragic death of Deborah Jeane Palfrey and the lack of response and demand for action from the feminist community is a reflection of this problem. Women really cannot be equal and free of oppression if some women tolerate the legal harassment of other women based on their perceived sexual behaviors.

When Sexual Fantasy Becomes Public II

Do newspapers randomly choose targets and decide, after a midday meeting, who they are going to investigate? Or are they directed toward the target by some external informant or agent? I'd lean more toward the latter.

Please, Anyone Can Do What You Do

It’s a sentiment expressed often, by a variety of people, when discussing sex work…the theory that anyone can do it. I can’t tell you in how many ways and from how many people I have heard that very sentiment expressed- from feminists to religious right folk, from average janes and joes, from people far and wide, in meatspace, in blog world, in random readings. People think, many do anyway, that anyone can do it. I’ve heard people assert that so long as you are breathing (and once I had a commenter assert that wasn’t even necessary to work in my industry) you can do it, I’ve had people say that it’s not like you have to have a brain to do sex work, any person with a body and an IQ over 70 could do it. I’ve heard it said that only stupid, fucked up girls do it because they can’t do anything else so they end up using their bodies. Anyone can shake their tits and ass. Anyone can sell those things. Face it, when it comes to the “anyone can do what you do for a living” screed, I’ve heard it all.

Reality Check: Dealing With Assholes

Asshole clients can have quite the range. Sometimes they’re just a little annoying. I’ve had one guy who insists on calling me “nasty girl” despite the fact that I don’t do submissive calls. When he calls me “nasty girl” his voice has a creepy edge to it that just makes me cringe. But on the whole he’s tolerable and he reliably calls me twice a month.

Deborah Jeane Palfrey

This is heartbreaking. The hell this woman must have been going through, the stress of it that led her to take her own life. Truly this is awful, and it's absolutely fucked.

Buy My Bloomers

Quick! Grab a seat... you have been invited to our first international mini-fest celebrating sex worker self-representation about harm reduction. We are showcasing sexy and thought provoking films made by sex workers.

On Porn and Prostitution

Soldiers Say Porn Ban May Hurt Morale

As a feminist and a woman in the military, I'm honestly not sure how to feel about this. On the one hand, I certainly think that in some cases, pornographic material might be "Feeding a base addiction" that would lead men to behave in unseemly ways, but on the other, I fall back on my previous rant about sexual assault:

"Rape isn't about hormones; it's about anger. Rape is a crime of hate, and the military would do well to remember that."

When the Friend of Our Enemy Needn't Be Our Enemy

...anti-prostitution feminists perceive pro-prostitution feminists as betraying them by ganging up with the anti-feminist majority of the populace that says "at the end of the day all women only have sex for money, some just call what they do 'marriage.'" And where pro-prostitution feminists perceive anti-prostitution feminists as betraying them by ganging up with the anti-feminist majority of the populace that says "whores, like all women, have no, zero, none capacity for, let alone right to, sexual self-determination." It's irrelevant that both side's perceptions of the other are so wrong radar couldn't find them because those *are* the perceptions.

But what about the johns? Some thoughts on a non-argument

Figleaf wrote a post earlier this week about the feminist debate on the ethics of sex work. While I'm sure he was trying to carve out some kind of feminist middle ground, I really think his argument here falls flat in a couple of places. The first, which is what I want to address here, is that he frames the ethics about commercial sex in terms of attitudes toward women that men who buy sex may or may not have. The second is that I think he comes up with a very clumsy "middle ground" feminism, which just doesn't hold together in terms of real world politics or logical consistency – that's worth another post in itself, and I'll address it separately.

In Defense of Raunch Feminism

And this seems to be coming from a blatantly sexist assumption - women are too weak, or too stupid, or too easily controlled to be able to make such choices for themseleves.

[The Pro Circuit] Prostitution and Paranoia

To hear SWANK tell it, “From New York to California, daily reports of Pink Scare-fueled police busts, e-stings and raids, even at legal venues like strip clubs and dungeons, have reached a fever pitch.” Whether or not that’s true, the comments are a look into the kind of legal and social paranoia that sex workers have to operate under every day. With the exception of porn actors—who just about never get busted, though they have other troubles—all sex workers have to worry about the law on some level. Strippers can and do get busted for doing a little too much during a private dance; professional dominants sometimes get arrested for running a house of ill repute even if they don’t provide, or might not provide, “sex” by most peoples’ definition. What’s more, video and novelty stores in many jurisdictions could get cited for zoning violations, obscenity and more. Then there are the street prostitutes, who account for the vast majority of sex work busts—they’re pretty nervous about the cops, I understand.

Not A Monolith

It reminded me about how much people are able to draw fine distinctions about all other aspects of consumption, and yet view the entire sex industry as one big monolith – "pornstitution" as anti-porn feminists have come to call it over the last couple of years. I also hear a great deal of rhetoric that the sex-industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that escapes criticism from otherwise-progressives supposedly blinded by a sex-positive ideology.

The problem with this line of thinking comes when we look at a range of concrete examples of what makes up "pornstitution".

Extreme Porn Banned in UK

It's official. England, perviest place on earth, has passed its ban on possession of so-called "extreme pornography." The law doesn't make it very clear exactly how such a thing is defined, but I suppose, like the late Justice Potter Stewart, they'll know it when they see it.

If the Government Could Read My Mind, They'd Ban It

I'm scared. No, scratch that. I'm terrified. For the first time in my life, I am feeling genuinely persecuted and threatened by a government, that believes that the very basis of who I am is somehow illegal.

The More You Know...

...a compilation of relevant case law and statutes [regarding prostitution] which some may find useful.

Defend Our Porn

Evil Angel is planning a special collectors’ edition compilation DVD of the company’s best scenes from each one of its directors handpicked by company owner John Stagliano. Proceeds from the sale of the DVD will go to, a legal defense fund set up for Stagliano’s pending obscenity case.

On Privilege and Being an Ally

Earning the privilege to be trusted

karnythia, and indeed every woc, have no reason to take calls of solidarity from white feminists seriously and every reason to mistrust them. It’s not even like this string of incidents was the first one ever, or even the first to occur in the blogsphere; it’s just the latest blow up in a long, racist history of uneasy tension between white feminism and woc feminism.

Most white feminists, yes even the ones who are protesting the loudest here, understand that men aren’t automatically entitled to the benefit of the doubt. They get that, in order to be an ally, a man has to put his money where his mouth is and actually act like one. He has to deal gracefully with the mistrust of feminists who have been hurt one too many times by men professing to like women and to be an ally. He also has to accept that some feminists will only ever view him as an interloper because of the long, sordid, and often personal history that comes with gender relations. No one is saying that it’s fair, but part of being an ally is understanding that the little unfairness that he suffers not only is rooted in real, valid causes, but also doesn’t outweigh the unfairness that the women treating him unfairly have suffered.

Some Thoughts on Being an Ally

Over the course of the weekend, I heard so much about institutional racism, white privilege, prejudice, racism, classicism, heterosexism, ableism, that my head was spinning. My defenses got crushed the more I listened. And I eventually realized that saying that I was against prejudice was different than recognizing how I benefit from preferential treatment and how that does shape my world view.

This conference was about eight years ago, and I’m still learning, and I still need to check myself from time to time. The biggest hurdle I’ve faced is learning to recognize that everything is not about me. It’s not anyone elses’ job to show me the way and teach me about racism, and if anyone takes the time to correct or share with me, I am grateful because that’s not something I should feel entitled to.

Ally Work

I dunno. Part of being "an ally," if we even grant that the phrase is useful, is being someone these issues don't directly affect. Bad Ally Syndrome comes directly from the fact that we're not always looking after ourselves, that (for example) disability rights, or issues of police brutality, may not be our personal "battery-chargers" at all. And surely it's not always a sin to forget these things, or neglect them, or to just plain be too busy with daily life -- or with posting about your own central issues -- to get to them right now.

But big silences, like that silence about BADD, have effects. They make people feel that no one has their back. They make people feel that some blogs are successes and some are not, and all that counts is how wide of an appeal you can have for someone looking for a "quick battery recharge."

Don't Be "That Guy"

I thought about a dear friend of mine, who is -- genuinely and with all sincerity -- one of the Good Guys, someone who understands the fact that he has straight white male privilege even if he doesn't always spot it in action in the wild. We were talking about privilege (in another context, before this blew up), and he said something I found really sad -- not that it makes me sad about him, but sad about the society -- which was (paraphrased) that he knows he has this privilege and he doesn't want to fumble around and make things worse for people by accidentally displaying it. So he stays out of those conversations, because he doesn't want to impose and make people uncomfortable.

Dear White Feminists, Quit Goddamned Fucking Up!

How many dedicated women of color, who spend their lives fighting oppression, have to scream at us, or commit blogicide, or throw up their hands in disgust and abandon the label “feminist” before we actually take their comments at face value and LISTEN?

I, Colonist

I think, now that some dust is settling, one thing is clear: we all have a lot of slack to pick up. And I'm the slowest blogger alive, so I need to step up and get a little braver, a little more incisive, a little readier to ask hard questions, in order to help close the gap.

So here goes:

I am part of the problem of gentrification.
I live in an amazing neighborhood that I love. I moved here a few months ago to move in with my fiancée, and this was a place we could afford--we're neither of us rolling in excess money, as young dykes of color, me in blue-collar work, her in childcare--and it's beautiful, and the house was empty. But this is a historically black neighborhood, and there are no two ways about that. It is slowly being artsified, rents are going up, storefronts are fancier: it's now an "Arts District."

Narcissist Feminism

Narcissist Feminists - let’s call them NF’s - are, so far in my experience, white heterosexual middle class women who experience feminism only as a friction occurring between themselves and white men. There are no other women on Planet NF. There are no people of color. No queer people. Just her - the woman the patriarchy pictures when it thinks “woman” - and the white men that stand between her and the top of the world.

As she scrambles to get to the top, she dislodges boulders that fall onto the heads of those who stand beneath her in the hierarchy.

Her only goal is to get to the top of the heap.

As Purple Is To Lavender

Senator Clinton’s run for the Democratic nomination has not produced a split in feminism. It just flushed away a lot of that tolerance bullshit and exposed a rift that’s been there since way back in the day.

This bitch just watched Iron Jawed Angels again and found myself screaming at the television set because it ended in a ‘go forth, sister, and be inspired by what these brave women did for you’ GreatBigHappyFuckingEnding after only a token acknowledgement of the deliberate cave by leaders of the Suffrage Movement to southern bigotry that left women of color on the curb for another 40 years!

Allies Talking

This got me thinking about those white folks who exist in that liminal space where they are against racism but don’t understand how it works and get defensive, hurt, and freaked out when folks point out how they benefit from it without trying. We saw a lot of that on the Thank You thread before the others showed up. I am wondering how you turn that kind of person into an ally. I’m wondering if maybe I cannot simply because, when they read my words, they are so filled with defensiveness and perhaps guilt, nothing I say can get through. If they can’t listen to me, can they maybe listen to other White people?

On Misogyny Around the World A.K.A. Preventing Rape Through Altering/Scarring/Limiting/Traumatizing Women

Breast Ironing

Words cannot aptly convey my horror at discovering this practice.

What is Breast Ironing?
Breast ironing is a traditional practice that involves massaging or pressing the breasts of adolescent girls in order to suppress and reverse their development. The rationale is to prevent girls from developing breasts in the belief that a flat, child-like chest will discourage unwanted male attention, rape and pre-marital pregnancy.

On Sexual/Gender Identity and LGBTQI Issues

Another Lesbian Raped and Murdered

Once again another lesbian has been raped, tortured and murdered in South Africa on Monday 28th April. Sizakele Sisgasa and Salome Masooa were tortured and murdered just 10 months ago. Since then lesbians, gays and transsexuals across the continent - Nigeria, Uganda, Senegal and Cameroon, have been attacked and beaten and arrested for simply living their sexuality.

On Misperceiving Someone As Femme or Butch

These identities are deeply socially constructed and policed, on all sides - those of us who do claim them, those of us who don’t. They’re loaded, complex, and largely misperceived.

Calling someone femme or butch is not necessarily intended to be insulting - sometimes, it is meant with much love and praise. But if you don’t identify as such, it can feel insulting, regardless of the intention.

This happened again recently, and it got me thinking: here’s why it doesn’t have to feel insulting, regardless of the intention.

Suspicion and Doubt in South Camba

It's one of the oldest prejudiced beliefs in the book, applied to anyone whose sexuality deviates from the norm, whether it's the (now) legal, such as homosexuals, or the absolutely illegal and immoral, as in paedophiles. Almost the first assumption people leap to is that, if you identify as sexually "different", then somehow you are uncontrolled in your sexual appetites.

The Other Professionals, Men and Transwomen In Sex Work

After all, there are other people involved in any and every aspect of the biz. Porn, stripping, prostitution, professional BDSM? Sure enough, the performers and workers in these industries are not all women. There are men and transwomen involved too, yet we rarely ever hear about them. We really only hear of men as consumers or directors, strip club owners and pimps. What about the other men in the biz we never hear about? At least not in a big media way. What about the transwomen? No "Dateline" specials on them. Which surprises me. I mean, aren't they sex workers too? Don't they require advocacy, support, exit strategies if wanted, aren't they worthy of attention too?

Many peers back cross-dressing student

Loscalzo said school officials warned him Friday that he could be suspended if he continued to cross-dress, a claim that administrators denied yesterday.

In a show of support, several students have organized an "Equality Protest" this week, by showing up to school dressed in garments of the opposite sex.

Transgendered Kids, Part II

Robert, Violet’s father, said that telling his family was the hardest part. After all, Violet was ten. He told the story of a family gathering where all of his aunts were sitting together, and one of them, the matriarch of the family, asked him “Robert, didn’t you have a boy?”

And he steeled himself, and he explained that Armand was now Violet, that she was transgender, and he brought her over to say hello to her great-aunts.

And when she happily skipped away, he waited for the aunts’ response.

“I’m proud of you,” his aunt said. “It must have been hard.”

Homosexuality In Colonial Framework

Wetka and Melka, have declared their love for one another in a marriage ceremony in the Indian district of Koraput. Homosexuality has been criminalized since India was a colony of England[...]Though the government does not prosecute these offenses there is still an extremely high level of homophobia in India. According to the BBC their tribes were not initially pleased with the pairs decision to marry. The villagers were concerned that they would not be able to support themselves without the help of men. Apparently due to the obvious love between the couple they were "forgiven".

Listening to: Rage Against the Machine - Wake Up

The Intersection of Radical and Sex Positive Feminisms

This is a post I have been contemplating for some time. It began with my "Why Sex Positive" post, and has been poking at me over and over again whenever I read about the supposed oppositional natures of sex positive and radical feminism. For instance, most recently, I came across this post:

"Sex Positive Feminism (rofl): Doing what men want, the way they want it. Empowerfulment!"

Now, I am linking to the blog because honestly, it's a good blog. And Hellon, the author, is incredibly insightful in many ways (especially considering she's in high school). She is already a kick ass feminist.

However, obviously, I disagree with this particular idea of hers (and not just hers, it is shared all across the radical feminist blogosphere) and I think it illustrates well one of the major repeated assertions/misconceptions that rad fem's have about us.

So let me put this simply...

Sex Positive Feminism HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH MEN.

Even if you want to disagree with us on porn, and prostitution, and any other manner of things, please at least do so from an intellectually honest point of view. Don't "other" and marginalize your fellow women, your sisters(!), that is a tactic taught to you by the Patriarchy, who would like nothing more than to see us bite and scratch and claw and tear each other apart.

Sex positivity is not about that. Sex positivity is about exploring an arena that was, until our foremothers broke down barriers, forbidden for us to access, our own sexual selves. It is about, playing with sex (and I use the word "playing" VERY purposefully, because it carries with it a light hearted, unashamed connotation for me). It is about learning about our sexualities... And why put limits on what can be explored?

Radical feminism has taught me that women have the capacity to see and to understand and to analyze our lives and our surroundings and our decisions and our situations. If we can do these things, surely we can explore the light and the darkness of our sexualities with full cognizance. And THAT is what sex positivity is. That is it EXACTLY. The disconnect for rad fems comes when they see other women accepting and enjoying things from this exploration that they feel is directly in opposition to their own understanding of their sexuality and what is good for Womyn as a group.

And I get that.

I do.

And I don't think you should be quiet about it, if that's how you feel. But why does it have to come to the point it does? Why do we have to go into the catty "you're not a feminist!" Othering BULLSHIT? Why? As I said before, those are PATRIARCHY TACTICS. And I dunno, I don't want us to all be the same. It's tempting sometimes, but you know, I don't think that's what life is about. For there to be creativity, there must be polarity, and our oppositions can feed that creative spark, if we channel it to working together instead of using it against it each other. And if we attain what men have, the ability to be true individuals in our natures and tastes, we are never going to all agree. But I digress...

Radical feminism has taught me that Patriarchy has warped our understandings of what our sexuality looks like, of how it functions, of WHAT it's function IS. Fuck THAT noise. We all want to be rid of that Patriarchal conditioning, don't we? How else are we going to figure it out without experimentation? And yes, the exploration for one person might be pushing another's boundaries in an uncomfortable way. But I've learned the most about myself from times when I've been made to feel uncomfortable.

And that brings me to what I said on Hellon's blog.
Sex positive feminism has been as big an influence on my decision to leave my legs hairy as radical feminism.

Because, it's about US. How, what, who WE ARE. What WE WANT. Men don't come into the equation unless what we like includes them.

We are working towards the same goal my sisters, each to the best of our talents. We want to see the destruction of the currently woman-negative, sex-negative, slut-shaming, patriarchal bullshit society we all live in too. Don't let the way they've taught us we must interact destroy the work we could do together.

Listening to: Alanis Morissette - Right Through You

The Carnival Is Coming!

The Third Feminist Carnival of Sexual Freedom and Autonomy will be posted on schedule tomorrow evening Pacific Standard Time. It's all wrapped up except for my own contribution to it (a post entitled: "The Intersection of Radical and Sex Positive Feminisms") and possibly one from Lina at Uncool.

I'd like to thank everyone who submitted contributions, and to Lina especially who gave me a mad round up of excellent potential to work with. I think it's a pretty good looking gathering of posts if I do say so myself.

Listening to: Alanis Morissette - The Couch

Friday, May 09, 2008

Arizona Bill Ushers In New McCarthyism

Via The Anxious Black Woman

An amendment to a bill in Arizona's House of Representatives has been issued from the Homeland Security advisory council to prevent public schools from using tax dollars that support the teaching of and any organizing based on values "that denigrate or overtly encourage dissent from the values of American democracy and Western civilization" (See legislative document).

Sounds like any curricula or student organization that would criticize capitalism, globalization, anti-immigration, Christian fundamentalism, and - oh yes! - white supremacy, is in trouble.

What makes this legislation deeply insidious is that it looks like it's an issue of "homeland security," completely dismissing our right to public education while also hoodwinking the general public into not recognizing how its very language is a violation of our First Amendment rights! This doesn't support our democracy; it strikes at the core of it!

Fortunately, Arizona citizens are working hard to prevent this amendment from passing. Please lend them your support by signing this petition.

If we let this slide in Arizona, I can only imagine the horrendous repercussions if it leads to a domino effect.

This, my friends, is the fallout when feminists and other progressives don't band together (because racism continues to divide us) and when Democrats don't get their act together. How many of us are even sure that a Democrat will be in the White House next year? The fact that we're not even sure about this means that we're in trouble, for only when that happens will this neoconservative trend, which fuels racism, xenophobia, fascism, and the worst forms of rampant corporatized consumer culture (which as I've stated yesterday will lead to the destruction of us all), start to reverse.

And when all the progressive professors (myself included) are legally silenced, and all our students (many of whom are in debt - which is a contemporary way of saying ENSLAVED) are prevented from radically organizing, there's no mistaking the handwriting on the wall.

Act now!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Is it just me?

Or is there something just, awesome, about this picture?

Spain's defense minister:

I think there is.

Monday, May 05, 2008

3rd Carnival Thoughts and Suggestions

So, as you may or may not already know, I'm hosting the Third Feminist Carnival of Sexual Freedom and Autonomy!


So, I'm looking forward to it, and I hope you are too. This post serves to let you know this is going on, and to prompt you for any writings you might want to submit.

We're in an interesting position this time around, as the issue that has dominated the feminist blogosphere for the past month or so have been issues to do with race. And I can't imagine I'm the only one who was been struggling with what it means to be an ally, and where my understanding of feminism fits into the picture.

In talking with Lina in preparation for this carnival, she also pointed out that it seems those of us in the "sex positive" category tend to be aligned more often and more vocally with WOC feminists. I have to admit I've noticed the same, especially in the case of WOC and sex workers. Why is this? Is it because as one starts to understand the intersections of oppression they tend to be more invested in and accepting of other various intersections? I think this would be one of many potentially good topics that could be explored for this edition of the Carnival.

Examining the intersections of sexual freedom/autonomy and anti-racist activism is one area I hope we will be able to explore, but as usual anything examining sexual freedom will be happily accepted. Any ideas for further prompts in the comments are more than welcome!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Use The Force Luke!

Clinton people, don't hate me... But this was too amusing to not share.