Posts Tagged ‘relationships’

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!



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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jasmineThis shit is nothing new. I’ve seen this all over the place, all the time. But since I learned feminism, I’ve avoided clicking on these ridiculous links. But I wanted to revisit the brainwashing of women, so I took a look at this slideshow. There’s nothing much to be said about this, like I said, it’s pervasive, and critiquing this sort of thing would be a pretty dull project. I was surprised by how angry I felt, so I decided to share. So many women read this crap and act on it. It makes me sick.

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In this post, you will find: some incendiary thoughts to promote discussion. i do believe in these ideas, but i’m open to changing my opinions if compelling arguments are offered. and a bunch of personal revelations. for me, it is about time to come out with it!

  1. Patriarchy is everywhere. Example follows in #2.
  2. Men have the incentive to promote sex-positivism, as they have a lot to gain from the idea that women who exercise sex and sex appeal are using them as tools for empowerment. When in fact, these women are tricked into assuming a very specific kind of power, while forgoing many other avenues of expression and empowerment. Of course men would want to promote the idea that women having sex and being sexy and doing sex-work is a good thing for the women themselves. When in fact, I believe that it hurts women, while helping men to get what they want, i.e. sex. This kind of empowerment is dependent upon male response, and is therefore, not empowerment at all.
  3. Heterosexual penetrative vaginal intercourse is inherently unequal. The man in this situation can orgasm so he has less incentive to stop, while the woman will rarely find it as pleasurable. Most women cannot climax through this kind of sex. Why, then, are they even having it? I know it must feel good for many women. But it doesn’t feel as good as so many other things, for many women. Why do women settle for an action that only feels kind of good sometimes? I have some ideas for why. It is because women feel culturally pressured into having sex, into feeling that they are not complete people if they have not had sex. I know why I sometimes have sex. It is to please the man. Coincidentally, it may sometimes feel pleasurable for me. But even if it didn’t, I would probably have this kind of sex. I have been tricked into attaching some of my self-worth to whether a man wants to, and will, have sex with me. (To my bejai-baby: I love you and we’ve talked about this and you are amazing and it’s awesome that you are willing to not have sex with me, though I won’t thank you for it, as it’s not exactly a favor that you are granting me so much as not prohibiting me from exercising my right that I already have to not have sex.)
  4. It seems unnatural to think of not having sex. But power structures survive from generation to generation by the illusion of naturalness. The oppressor will make the victim think that SEX is how it has always been, that SEX is natural, that SEX cannot change. And the victim will believe him. And it will go on and on and on. The idea that women should reconsider having sex is met with great opposition, even from my like-minded feminist peers!

Thoughts please.

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nothing-more-unsettling-than-a-queer-tranceDo you ever find yourself in bed at night tossing and turning in frustration over things you wish you’d said? Here’s one of mine, it’s based on something I hear a lot of people say and it echoes in my head.

“I’m scared that what I’m feeling is just a phase.” Why does it matter? The term “phase” was constructed by our society to assure everyone that a deviant tendency will eventually get ironed out by the norm. I know too many people who are scared that their “radical” ideas are just a phase, that they’ll look back on the decisions they made with regret because, GASP!, they changed their mind later. Most popular is my female friends’ fear of a “lesbian phase”.

Some women are terrified that they’ll make out with a woman, maybe even date her for a while, but then it doesn’t work out, and OH, they’re out of college and they get that “lesbian until graduation” label stamped on their history. The fact is that EVERYONE CHANGES. Sexuality is no exception. People flow in and out of sexual orientations and their world does not devolve into chaos. As a person who has identified as a lesbian once, I think it is ridiculous to worry that you’re going to offend me if it turns out you like men too. The attractions are not mutually exclusive. There seems to be a myth floating about that once you enter a relationship with someone of the same sex you must stay same sex forever lest you offend the almighty HOMOSEXUAL COMMUNITY. God forbid you ever allow yourself to identify with an oppressed group of people.

Back in high school, I started becoming attracted to women. I kept telling myself, “it’s just a phase, it’s just cause you’re going to an all-girls school, it’s the same-sex environment… once you go to college you’ll have boys to fall in love with and all the complicated social stigmas will go away… it’s just not easy being gay, if you have the choice, you might as well be straight and avoid controversy.” I have my diary for proof. So I see all these women in college doing the same exact rationalizing game I did in high school and I just want to scream. Sexuality is fluid. Love isn’t logical. Your socialization is telling you what the easy way is and you’re avoiding complication. It is true: it is easier to be straight in our heteronormative society. But the only way change happens is when people start accepting a deviance from the norm. Not just tolerating, but accepting. Letting it invade their life, too. Making it their issue. I am not saying that everyone should force themselves into same-sex attraction. I am saying if you are questioning, don’t suppress that emotion for sake of upholding the norm.

What do I want you to do, you phase-fearers? I want you to acknowledge the homophobia with which you’ve been raised. I see that you love your gay friends, but you do not tolerate queerness in yourself. It is as though you are walking through a mountain range with a friend who is carrying all the heavy backpacks and luggage (the gay) and instead of offering to carry something, you just run circles around them cheering them on. I dare you to take a bag. I dare you to queer yourself. Even those of you who have only been attracted to the opposite gender–allow yourself to stray from the straight paradigm. Even those of you who fit into the fledgling gay paradigm–stop putting yourself into sexual orientation boxes. Be comfortable being queer. Being weird. Doing something that’s hard for you but promotes a more accepting understanding of sexuality.

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A Wise Man?

A Wise Man?

Gender Agenda seems to be on a big relationship kick lately which I am so down with, as I told Munzi I’ve been planning to write a post about relationships for a few months, but I was taking a haitus from blogging for a few months, but now with my new NYRs in hand, one of them being to write at least a page a day, and blog more often, I really have no excuse.

I’ve spent quite a few months thinking about het-romantic relationships and power, basically since I attended an Evan Greer workshop/concert back in November. How can we we create radical hetero-romantic relationships that avoid reproducing the same sort of hierarchies and power dynamics as the larger society around us? Is it possible to have non-hegemonic hetero-romantic relationships? Could it be possible to queer hetero-relationships? When sex is added to the mix is penetration violent? Does it have to be? Is it possible to reconceptualize certain sexual acts so that they aren’t about penetration? And what about other sexual acts– heterosexual couplings aren’t always/often (ever?) about making babies, can  be a bit more imagination in their sex lives do some good?

I often find myself in hetero-romantic relationships, and pondering these questions is something I often do. But not something I often talk to my partners about. Usually I get as far as: “If I’m being a patriarch you’ll tell me right?” Usually they think I’m being ridiculous. So maybe communication about these things is the first step towards radicalizing hetero-romantic relationships.

And so far I’ve been privileging the issues of gender/sex within a hetero-romantic relationship, but, just like all relationships, power is complicated by race,ethnicity, age, class, ability, and so on and so forth. And these are just as serious, as I can tell you from arguments with one of my girlfriends from high school where she would tell me I was being sexist, and a patriarch because I wouldn’t listen to her side of something ( I found her opinion racist and offensive, btw she is white), and I would shout that she was being racist and a bigot. So I don’t know what the point of that anecdote was except to elaborate that things can get complicated and messy. (Oh, and to point out that the idea of someone not being racist because they are dating a person of color is as absurd as saying that someone couldn’t be sexist because they date women).

So what does this have to do with John Cusack?

I’ve watched a lot of movies over the past few weeks: a conservative estimate would be around 70. I’ve watched a lot, a lot, a lot of romantic comedies, possibly my favorite genre of film. I’ve also watched a couple of John Cusack movies (I want to include 16 Candles as a Cusack movie, but it really isn’t). I’ve watched High Fidelity four times in the past two weeks, and thats the one that sticks with me most, but I also watched Tapeheads (which, if you haven’t seen is absolutely brilliant though not considered a good movie). There are two quotes from these movies that really stuck with me. The first is from High Fidelity:

What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?

I thought that this was fantastic, and the other quote came from Tapeheads, soon after Samantha Gregory (Mary Crosby) tells Cusack’s character Ivan that media is power, and goes on about how she wants the power, then proceeds to begin hooking up with Ivan then says:

How’s the representation?

I thought that was fantastic.

So where do we find our models for hetero-romantic relationships (and all relationships). As these films so eloquently explain, media is power. And the representations of hetero-romance throughout various mediums greatly influence the ways we interact. So I guess if I/we want to find these radical, non-hegemonic hetero-romantic relationships we need to stop just depending on these templates, and begin to use our creativity and imaginations.

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