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So, lately, I’ve been thinking about porn and feminist porn. Which, me being me, is strange. But it’s kind of been popping up around my life lately.

Every year, our school hosts a porn night and the club for our major hosts an alternative porn night instead. I went to both events, the first being some Avatar porn knock off thing. The second showing was Tristan Taormino’s Expert Guide to Oral Sex, Part 2: Fellatio which seemed kind of appropriate given the blog posts earlier in the semester about blowjobs. Continue Reading »

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As I scrambled for a blog post topic not entirely linked to my personal experiences, I thought about this unsettling billboard I’ve come across several times while driving in New Orleans.  The billboard is located right off of the I-10 headed toward the east from campus. It reads “Everyone needs a dominant man.”  The advertisement is for a large truck (I am almost certain Chevy, but it’s been a while since I’ve seen it)  I tried to find an image on google, but couldn’t. Sorry. :/

The first time I saw this billboard I had already been in a terrible mood and it set me off so much that I let out a cathartic scream.  As a domineering, powerful woman who generally  seeks relations with either other women or incredibly difficult to find open and submissive men, I became enraged. The billboard shoves the fact that we live in a patriarchal society in your face.  Men are supposed to be dominant and take what they want when they want it.  They are supposed to call the shots and make decisions that women are expected to support.  We need them in our lives. Fuck that noise.

But seeing the billboard in a less frenetic state caused me to pay more close attention to the word “everyone.”  This makes me think of family dynamics.  The billboard now seems to reinforce heteronormativity and the importance of the traditional family structure. Males need a dominant father figure to guide them through life, right? I mean, heaven forbid a boy is raised by a single mom or two mommies.  If I end up having a son chances are very high that he will be raised in one of those two poisonous environments. I’m sorry, but I know several people raised by single mothers, males and females, who turned out just fine; excellent in fact.  I’ll be sure not to paint his nails pink! Wouldn’t want him to become a submissive gay male in this society….. Lord knows a single mom couldn’t afford that kind of therapy!

Both of these messages seem interesting considering that the target audience to which one would sell a massive truck would be male.  Maybe the advertisement seeks to pinpoint insecurities males have in regards to their masculinity? Like they need this truck to compensate for their submissiveness.  I think there is a backlash against feminism going on in our society that is reflected by this need for men to constantly assert their masculinity.

This billboard is SO problematic and definitely addresses some interesting gender issues prevalent in our society. Seriously, I am considering vandalizing this thing before I leave the state…. All I can say is YUCK.

A few weeks ago I was part of a discussion (a debate if you will…) that I have not been able to stop thinking about since. I mentioned during a class discussion that I feel we still live in a society where ultimately women must to choose between a career and a family. Suddenly, the hands shot up. Everyone had something to say and as I listened a pattern seemed to arise. Not all, but many of the girls in the class agreed with what I had said while the only two boys to speak on the subject vehemently disagreed. Sitting there taking it all in I started to feel enraged. What did these two boys know about being a woman in the workforce? Admittedly, I know very little about that, as well. The difference, however, is that as a woman thinking about where I want my career to go must also involve thinking about my future familial plans and I do not believe men carry this burden.

To clarify, I don’t believe that it is impossible for a woman to be both a mother and an employee. I do, however, feel that as a woman if you choose to have a family there comes a time where your career plateaus. A few years ago Mimi Schippers had speakers come to her Gender and Society sociology course. One of these speakers was a prominent female attorney and a partner in her firm. While I sat in the class as an idealistic freshman this woman’s story resonated me in a way I never expected. She told us that she got to a certain point in her career where she had to decide what was more important to her because in order to progress in her firm she could not be tied down by maternity leave, maternal duties, etc. She also made it a point to mention that this was not a choice any of the other men in her firm were silently required to make.

This is obviously problematic for a number of reasons. First, this kind of workforce sexism plays directly into heteronormative gender roles. If only women feel the need to choose between a family and a high-powered career as a society we have failed to make any progression toward more egalitarian gender roles within the family. Why is it believed that a family will hinder a woman’s career capability but not a man’s? Don’t both women and men play an important role in the life of a child? As I head toward my senior year (and in turn, closer and closer to the “real world”) it both saddens and frightens me that in one way or another I will be sacrificing one part of my life for a different, unrelated aspect. I do believe we have made strides and I am fortunate that I (as my mother did) can have a family and still have a career; however, I cannot pretend that the strides have gone far enough.

So I am a huge sports fan.  I’m from Boston, Mass, so naturally I love the Celtics. And just as naturally I hate the Lakers.  Recently, the Lakers gave me another reason to despise them.  Kobe Bryant, of the Lakers, got angry at a ref in a game and used the word “Faggot.”  What happened next was surprising, and impressive.  The NBA, instead of letting this usually above-the-law basketball player get away with either a slap on the wrist or nothing at all, fined him 100,000 dollars!!

Here is the article that describes what happened:

http://lgbtweekly.com/2011/04/21/lakers-star-kobe-bryant-fined-100000-for-anti-gay-slur/

Here is the video of Kobe Bryant saying “fucking faggot”

http://www.nowpublic.com/sports/kobe-bryant-gay-slur-video-what-did-he-say-spurs-game-2011-2776867.html

I was very happy with the NBA, such a traditionally masculine-driven  and heterosexual sport, took this unacceptable and hurtful outburst so seriously. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I consider $ 100,000 a lot of f***ing money!  Hopefully it will send a message to either other NBA players, or the community.  Especially since so many young people look up to Kobe Bryant, using that homophobic slur was probably one of the worst things he could have done as a role-model.

What impressed me even more, was that it is one thing to fine him, and another thing for him to publicly apologize with an “official statement,” but Kobe Bryant personally called the HRC and apologized for his behavior.

With that said, I still hate Kobe Bryant.

Whenever I hear about progress being made in the fight for equality, I know it won’t be long until I catch wind of news that further disappoints and represses.

Recent news is no exception.

The latest disappointing news comes out of Tennessee. The state senate there has passed what they are calling the “don’t say gay” bill. The bill, which was approved by a special panel on a 6-3 vote forbids teachers and other educators from “…discuss[ing] any sexual behavior other than heterosexuality prior to the ninth grade…”

Proponents of the law argue that it is simply a clarification extension of an already existing law regarding the education curriculum of the state of Tennessee; the law currently makes it a “… misdemeanor to teach any sex education that is not part of the “family life curriculum” adopted by the state Board of Education…”

This law, if passed through the rest of the legislative process (not to mention the law that currently dictates the sexual education curriculum in Tennessee) will make it incredibly difficult not only for LGBT students in Tennessee, but also for teachers trying to support their students against the almost-guaranteed abuse that occurs to young LGBT students.

I am truly terrified by this type of ignorance and prejudice. Any thoughts?

You can read more about this law on a local news website:  http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2011/apr/21/dont-say-gay-bill-clears-senate-panel/

My roommate, Michaele, is a 21 year old woman who is beautiful, smart, and funny. She’s also really into romance novels. Yeah, not your stereotypical middle aged, cat loving (sorry, Prof), spinster, sweater-wearing, sexually repressed romance novel fan. As I’m writing this blog post, she is sitting on my bed, telling me about the differences between the romance novels between the 70’s-80’s and now. Apparently back in the day, the sex scenes were a little bit too “rape-y”, as Michaele puts it (“Like, teenage virgins who don’t even know where their vagina is. The plot was basically teenagers getting married to douchebags who raped them.”). Luckily, modern romance novels most often portray their heroines as sexually experienced, or at the least possessing some sexual agency. My roommate is a veritable wealth of knowledge on the subject, and what a subject to be an expert on.

I, personally, am fascinated with the phenomenon of young women reading romance novels, a genre that is at the same time widely read yet also shunned by the rest of the literary world. I mean, come on, some of these writers have been on the New York Times bestsellers list multiple times over their careers. No matter the economy or the current literary trends, romance novels always sell very well. There is clearly a huge market for it, so why are these novels seen so negatively?

I think, perhaps, that because these novels are written largely for women and by women that the general disdain towards them is a sign of blatant misogyny. Of course, the novels are largely about straight, white, middle to upper class couples. According to my roommate, though, the gay male romance novel community is huge (“Lesbians, not so much”). Another trend is, apparently, polyamory in which the relationship is often two men and one woman. There is also a growing trend of interracial couples and, of course, African American romance novels, though perhaps not at your local Barnes & Noble.

Opinions/thoughts?

Have you ever/would you ever read one?

Check out http://www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com/ for snarky commentary by young women on many different types of romance novels.

Being Vanilla

You know what? Vanilla is a delicious flavor of ice cream. There’s French Vanilla, there’s Vanilla Bean, there’s Slow Churned Rich & Creamy. But it’s will never be listed under “Fun Flavors”.

Even that protest sounds a little offensive. Being a minority isn’t about being “fun”. Suggesting that living in a non-hegemonic way is in any way more fun than living in the oppressing hegemonic category seem to a) refuse to see the reality that people are oppressed or that someone’s friends are denied opportunities and b) trivialize people’s identities as “choices”  and c) assume that the hegemonic majority can pass in and out of a minority space at will while the same may not be true for the someone who belongs on an alternative-to-maintstream culture.

That said experimentation and identities between the extremes of any binary certainly exist—I guess I’m speaking to modern “slumming”. I use slumming here to call to the imagination people in the hegemonic majority investigating minority spaces for their own curiosity. Curiosity, I suppose, can be the acknowledge of difference and the desire to learn about people unlike yourself. But sometimes it’s definitely an invasion, an “Other-ing”. For example, going into a gay bar for the sake of dancing because they have more fun music than the shitty joints for heterosexuals. And also to avoid heterosexual male creeps. But also to go to a gay bar. Or as we gave examples in class, going to the West Bank on Super Sunday. Or  going on a tour of the 9th ward.

Anyways, back to being vanilla. This is relevant being it introduces the dilemma of what to do with allies, especially as someone who enjoys studying gender and sexuality studies and thus more sensitive than average to how identity categories shape ones interactions. And are allies queer? And can I lend out my hegemonic privilege?

I don’t like being hegemonic! And yet as a young, heterosexual, female who desires masculine heterosexual men my only minority category is womanhood. I’m not even that kinky when I do have sex, although I suppose I have an exhibitionist proclivity. And I’m even lucky to have a normative (cis?) gender identity! How can I really defend Patricia Hill Collins’s idea that the people who are something should be the ones developing the theories around them or the general notion that one can’t ever really understand one another merely sympathize when even as one sympathizes you’re doing so from a position of power!

It becomes clearer and clearer every day how vanilla I am. To deny my identity as a white, heterosexual woman would be wrong—I don’t want to deny who I am—but I don’t want to appropriate anyone else’s culture or strip it of it’s sanctity by my presence.

My comfort is in this idea of “alliance”. Sure I’ve experimented, and honestly I’ll follow my desires regardless, but that certainly does not make me privy to any sort of understanding. This whole little personal crisis is always solved simply, with the reminder that being a friend is the easy thing to do to refute my hegemonic status…