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Posts Tagged ‘gender’

I know I’ve been kind of binge-posting lately, but I thought y’all might find this article interesting.

detail.asp?page=1&id=26601

badass

I know not all of us are on the Lady Gaga fan train, but I think this article is a fine example of a positive quality of Lady Gaga: she sometimes picks  really rad people to work with. This article is about Heather Cassils, the person Lady Gaga makes out with in the prison yard, who speaks at length about her dislike of binaries, disappointment with The L Word as a queer T.V. show, and her personal performance art.

The interviewer, Noah Michelson, also shares a good point with Cassils about the implications of having such a new face making out with a pop star,

It really speaks to the idea of visibility. When you think about the way queer women are presented — even in 2010 — we never see images like you and Lady Gaga making out… Whenever I see truly queer representations, especially embedded in such a mainstream moment like “Telephone,” I think of kids in the middle of Kansas who maybe aren’t exposed to anything, and then they see this Lady Gaga video, and they start asking questions. Even something as fluffy as a pop music video can be hugely influential.

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The tagline is "Every rose has its thorns." eheh heh heh?

So I just watched the movie Teeth. This is one rich film for a feminist. I highly recommend watching it. If you want to watch it before I give away the plot, I know you can find it for free at Surfthechannel… or you could, like, pay to watch it. Not like I did, but I’m all for that. SO now, DON’T READ FURTHER.

Okay, spoilers commence here. And, another warning: I’m gonna be talking about rape and sexual assault so, TRIGGER WARNING. This is how I saw the movie.

Teeth is the story of girl in high school who is a teenage advocate for The Promise Ring and boils in her repressed sexuality. She meets a guy at one of her speeches about the values of abstinence and immediately they hit it off–they have that special something. This girl lives at home with her mom, dad, and step-brother (?) who is basically the most misogynistic, horrible, sexual-assault-y dude ever. Her parents seem to be, like, the sweetest people everrr. So, after a particularly disgusting encounter with her brother which ends with him saying something like “you know who you’ve been saving yourself for, all this abstinence bullshit… you want me” the girl storms out of her house and decides that she’s gonna risk her “purity” and go out to the swimming hole with cute guy she met at the abstinence meeting. They dive into the water and (arguably) it’s adorable and romantic and I couldn’t help but want them to get some cause hey, they’re both just so darn conflicted and repressed. They kiss and feel guilty… kiss and feel guilty… then the girl swims further down the swimming hole into the cave where it’s rumored that kids “…you know” (subtext: have the sex). She climbs up onto a ledge in the cave where someone had already laid down a sleeping bag. Oh dear. Boy swims after her but she tells him not to come up there. He says “I’m freezing” in the water and climbs up anyway. They sit together and it’s still cute cause they don’t want to make moves but they can’t seem to help themselves and they get to kissing and touching and mounting. Then the girl stops them and says, “let’s go back down.” The guy says okay. BUT SUDDENLY. He mounts her again and starts pulling off his underwear saying things like “let me just try this” and then shouting at her, “I haven’t jerked off since Easter!” and she repeatedly says “NO! I’m SAYING NO!” It is horrifying transition from cutesy first love to a full-on THIS IS RAPE scene. After about a minute of wrestling and violence, the boy ultimately penetrates her. Then we hear a slicing kind of noise. The boy screams and, with difficulty, pulls himself free, gushing blood. A large portion of his penis drops to the rocky ground. He continues crying/screaming and jumps back into the water. This girl has teeth in her vagina (“vagina dentata”) that are apparently activated by non-consensual penetration.

So if that gives you an idea of what the movie is like… I’m gonna skip around through the rest of the things that I found interesting/disturbing/questionable about the movie.

Every male character besides the rather sweet papa turns out to just want to rape our protagonist. After the incident at the water hole, the girl goes to the gynecologist, who, after examining her, gives a furtive glance and seemingly decides that, since she’s never been to the gyno before, she won’t mind if he lubes up his hand and starts fisting her. She is severely uncomfortable, says so, and after a few thrusts, we hear the slicing noise. The gyno shrieks, four fingers fall to the floor, and as the girl escapes the room, the gyno starts screaming “VAGINA DENTATA! VAGINA DENTATA!” After this, the girl approaches another “nice guy” from school who proceeds to drug her and coerce into having sex, but she’s too drugged to feel threatened (thus, no castration this time). She has sex with him and they both smile and they both orgasm and it almost seems nice if it wasn’t that HE RAPED HER. She wakes up the next morning, has more sex with him, but, mid-thrusting, this guy answers his phone and he says “Hey. Yeah, doing it riiiight now. She’s right here.” He looks at her and says, “Say something.” She is disgusted, says, “no.” and asks him what’s going on. He tells her he made a bet with his friends over whether he could fuck her. After a few more words exchanged, he shrieks and, once again, a penis is severed. There is one more instance of this. Then an implied one in the end of the film. I will say that, from my point of view (and as far as I could see on other reviews of the movie), every person dismembered by the vagina dentata seemed to really “deserve” what they got–the penetrators were rendered utterly detestable.

I wonder about the “female empowerment” of the vagina dentata concept, when obviously any woman put in those situations in our world does not have this power over the penetrator. However, is the fear and discomfort that this film provokes in (reportedly) many penetrators an empowerment in some way? That maybe more people will think twice before they just compulsively penetrate?

I wonder about the genre of this movie and how it excuses certain plot points. For example, as a horror movie, I could say something like, “well, in most horror movies, women are disgustingly shallow characters and are nearly always humiliated in a graphically sexual/violent way, so it’s cool that this one is turning the tables.” And thus I justify the feminist goal of this movie. BUT this is a movie about the oft-ignored topic of rape, and the even more ignored topic of female defense against rape. Are women, as targets of the rapes portrayed, supposed to take heart in that there’s one story about a girl who has the magical power to exact justice on her rapist? What is valuable about this story to feminists and/or rape victims? Is this movie really made for these people? Or is this another kind of band-aid movie… a movie that makes everyone feel good about rape because, in this case, justice was served? I’m torn. I hated the rape scenes, but I learned, through the movie, to start feeling okay about them because I knew those fuckers were about to get their dicks handed to them.

I’m starting to hate feel-good movies.

There is also the sort of subplot about abstinence education. This is perhaps the most intellectually stimulating part of the movie. Our protagonist goes to a school where the sex-ed teacher cannot even bear to say the word “vagina” and the school textbooks have huge stickers pasted over the anatomical drawings of vaginas. It is made very clear that this is a misogynist community. What is the value of having a rather campy horror movie with pretty clear implications that abstinence-only sex education is, at best, painfully ironic? Afterall, the protagonist starts out as a fairly confident spokesperson for The Promise Ring.

So, after this long-ass post, do y’all have any thoughts?

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Or, alternatively titled: “Making the Brown Sex Week 2010 Poster”

(This is a cross-post from the SHEEC blog/my blog)

My goals were that the poster:

  • Wouldn’t imply a certain relationship status
  • Wouldn’t be objectifying and just like any other ad on TV
  • Wouldn’t be heteronormative (and ideally not homonormative, either, which is…not easy to do–most images out there are very either/or)
  • Would simultaneously bring something “non-traditional” to the fore but NOT in a “LOOK HOW RADICAL I AM!” way or in a “LOOK HOW FREAKY THIS IS!” way
  • Would focus on sexuality and sensuality, but in a fun, not intimidating, fashion
  • Re: above, would also not be too explicit or obviously and “traditionally” sexual, so that it could have more interpretations (including “platonic” ones?)
  • Would reflect an air of inclusiveness
  • Would not represent people from just one ethnic group (and this was the hardest to achieve while still trying to keep to the other points; I resolved this issue by making the skin tones a rainbow)
  • Would not glorify a particular body type, especially one that corresponds to the dominant ideas of beauty in the media
  • Would be welcoming and attractive
  • Would hold all the text necessary!

The RESULT:

Thoughts?

Do you encounter similar situations when you have to do the promotional material for events? How do you feel about the world of advertising/promo in college and/or specifically at your institution of “higher learning”?

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Hey folks. So I posted this link on the facebook a while ago after I saw it on Feministing:

I think it provides a great overview about trans and genderqueer identities (it’s not perfect). Our language doesn’t provide much room for gender flexibility, as you might have noticed. It’s a little awkward, if not, impossible for some people to speak of a person without assigning them a binary gender. As I’ve been working on my thesis, which is essentially about that awkward space–created most obviously by intersex people (people whose sexual make-up puts them outside the sexual binary), I’ve been feeling more and more uncomfortable with gendered pronouns. Especially applied to me. But I also cringe when I find myself categorizing other people who haven’t specified their pronouns to me (which almost never happens anyway). I’m trying to make a conscious effort to stop putting people in boxes and asking more questions like, “what pronouns do you use?” When I was living in New Orleans, my friends had a whole bunch of discussion and reading groups they participated in, and when we went around the room everyone would say their name, why they were there, and the pronouns they preferred. Stuff like that makes me so happy. I know some people feel awkward about it, but, in my personal experience, I have been delighted when people ask me my pronouns (I’m a fan of ze, hir, and hirs, by the way). HOWEVER, the point of this post was to point out a simple thing everyone can do that I think would make the world a better place. So here’s my thoughts:

When you are talking about someone whose gender identity or pronouns have changed throughout their life, please don’t say “okay, so they were BORN a woman… and now they’re a man”. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my thesis is that human sexual development occurs, in fact, on a spectrum. When babies are born a doctor decides what sex, of the two options, that baby belongs to. If the baby is one of the estimated 4% who are born intersex, often parents put them through “corrective” surgery or put them on hormones. Sharon Preves wrote,

“It is my argument that medical treatments to create genitally unambiguous children are not performed entirely or even predominantly for the sake of preventing stigmatization and trauma to the child. Rather, these elaborate, expensive, and risky procedures are performed to maintain social order for the institutions and adults that surround the child.”

In this way, the treatment of intersex children relies on the insecurity and fear of the “adults that surround the child” who cannot tolerate a human being outside the gender binary in their lives. (aside: I think that statement could start an entirely new and fascinating discussion about competitive child-rearing in our society and how consumerist childhoods form) However, it is important to recognize that although intersex people are representative of a small section that the binary cannot accept, everyone is part of the gender and sex spectrum. After all, not all people designated to the “male” category at birth without question have the same “penis”, and not all people designated to “female” have the same “clitoris”. There is a wide range of sizes, shapes, and hormonal drives. So. People aren’t born “male” or “female”–doctors assign these labels, and parents uphold the gender law in the household. I, and I think many trans and genderqueer people, feel that a decision was made for me, out of my control. But human beings made the decision.

“If nature really offers us more than two sexes, then it follows that our current notions of masculinity and femininity are cultural conceits”

Saying someone is “born” one way or another implies that nature made the decision. And the fact is that nature says nothing more than that there are as many sexes as there are people.

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Crossposted at Vegans of Color

I.

Parahumans only vaguely exist at this point. They remain embryo’s grown, destroyed, and harvested for stem cells. Some how a scientist mixing human dna with animal dna is not the ethical conundrum that growing a 100% homo sapiens embryo for harvest is.

II.

Have you heard of H.R. 5910? It was introduced by Christopher Smith (R) of NJ to the House on April 24, 2008. It never passed the House. It is also known as the Human-Animal Hybrid Prohibition Act of 2008. An identical bill was introduced into the Senate this year. Bobby Jindal has signed passed an act that prohibits the creation of such hybrids in the state of Louisiana with a 10, 000 dollar fine or 10 years in jail.

(more…)

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gender identityI’ve been feeling a lot of tension lately between my feminist identity and my gender identity. They both began developing around the same time. I started realizing that I what I thought was right for me deviated from the mainstream. A lot of people have been offended by my sadness for feminists who shave their legs and armpits, pluck their eyebrows, and maintain a “femme” appearance. Ever since I decided to stop doing these things (I didn’t do that many of them to begin with), and even before then, I have seen these practices as compromises to my feminism because I associated them with a desperate desire I had to pass as straight. I also hated my body hair and thought it was ugly. And I wasted a fair amount of time each day to maintaining this appearance. So whenever I see a female-identified person following these rules, I assume that they have some deep-down homophobia-based fear of looking gay or like a “typical feminist”. I was so torn about stopping shaving. I was scared people would judge me or be grossed out. Then I remembered that (a) I am an awesome person, (b) I would never want to be friends with someone who liked me only for my socially acceptable appearance, and (c) my hairy legs would just be ignorant-person repellant and do I really want to attract ignorant people? Now some feminists might say that ignorant people will only learn the error of their ways by being wooed (platonically or otherwise) by feminists. But I decided that I would rather stop wasting my time waging a war on my body hair for the sake of converting the fools to feminism.

So I worry sometimes that femme-y feminists sacrifice some self body-love in order to remain appealing to misogynist assholes.

But lately I’ve been questioning myself. All my life, I don’t think I ever felt comfortable wearing dresses or putting on makeup or generally being “femme”. I felt judged, I felt ugly and too flabby, and I was physically inable to do many things I would do while wearing… loose cargo pants, for example.  Lately, I have felt differently, oddly enough, after watching RuPaul’s Drag Race and seeing male-identified people putting on a feminine show. When I wear a dress now I comfort myself by remembering that gender is a performance and, right now, I am performing femininity. It is no more closer to my identity than the character I play in theatrical piece. I have finally learned to be comfortable in a femme role by imagining that I am merely in drag. Having a mohawk also helped too, though.

So, essentially, what I’m going on about is this conflict deep in my feminist soul. As far as my gender identity is concerned, I don’t identify as trans, or feel comfortable with male pronouns for myself, but I do not enjoy female pronouns either. I currently identify as genderqueer, and sometimes genderfuck. I favor clothing from the “men’s section” of stores because it usually is better made and better suited for my comfort, loving my body, and being a physically active human being. Shopping in the “men’s section” was another scary leap for me. I initially felt uncomfortable venturing there out of embarrassment. Now, I have no qualms. But I still have trouble dismissing my now hairier body as part of my gender identity. It was a feminist statement when I stopped shaving–that is, I didn’t stop because I wanted to look like more masculine. I stopped because I wanted hairiness to be an acceptable form of femininity. But, more and more, I feel as though I need to put this feminist view aside and say it’s a queer genderqueer thing. I want to get to the point where I don’t worry about anyone who proudly calls themself a feminist. Though I still can’t help but wonder if she’s ever questioned why she’s still shaving, plucking, and squeezing into those skinny jeans. I always find it hard to believe that she ever considered the other options.

I hope y’all will help me pull these thoughts apart.

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affirmative action

My pa sent this piece to me, perhaps it’s of interest to y’all.

Something I found interesting about it:
The writer speaks of “unconscious bias”. Doesn’t this seem like a redundant statement? If you were aware that you were biased wouldn’t you do something about it? I’d like to think so, but maybe not. Maybe the point is that unconsciously or not our society doesn’t really want to change.

I think it’s interesting even in our speech how we handle these issues. When describing this problem the writer says “So why is it that people of color still lag so far behind their white female counterparts” When of course the problem here is not that POC are at fault and “lag behind” but rather our system and those in power are lagging. And yet this sentence by it’s structure places that blame on them. While I’m guessing Sophia A. Nelson never meant to imply that (and I’m sure someone will argue I’m reading too much into this and they probably have a point) I still think it’s reflective of how we view our society and it’s problems and how this “unconscious bias” infiltrates how we even start to talk about it.

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